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Samuel Cooper

Samuel Cooper (1609 – May 5, 1672) was an Englishmarker miniature painter, and younger brother of Alexander Cooper.

He is believed to have been born in Londonmarker, and was a nephew of John Hoskins, the miniature painter, by whom he was educated. He lived in Henrietta Street, Covent Gardenmarker, and frequented the Covent Garden Coffee-House. Samuel Pepys, who makes many references to him, tells us he was an excellent musician, playing well upon the lute, and also a good linguist, speaking French with ease. According to other contemporary writers, he was a short, stout man, of a ruddy countenance. He married one Christiana, whose portrait is at Welbeck Abbey, and he had one daughter.

In 1668 he was instructed by Pepys to paint a portrait of Mrs Pepys, for which he charged £30. He is known to have painted also the portrait of John Aubrey, which was presented in 1701 to the Ashmolean Museummarker. From his correspondence with John Ray, the naturalist. Evelyn refers to him in 1662, when, on the occasion of the visit that the diarist paid to the king, Cooper was drawing the royal face and head for the new coinage.

Examples of his work are to be found at Windsor Castlemarker, Belvoir Castlemarker, Montague Housemarker, Welbeck Abbeymarker, Ham Housemarker, the Rijks Museum at Amsterdam and in the collection of Mr J Pierpont Morgan. His largest miniature is in the possession of the duke of Richmond and Gordon at Goodwood. A piece of the artists handwriting is to be seen at the back of one of his miniatures in the Welbeck Abbey collection, and one of his drawings in black chalk is in the University Gallery at Oxfordmarker. His own portrait of himself is in the collection of Mr J Pierpont Morgan.

The date of his death has been handed down by a record in the diary of Mary Beale, the miniature painter; and in some letters from Mr Charles Manners, addressed to Lord Ros, dated 1672, now amongst the duke of Rutland's papers at Belvoir, the writer refers to Cooper's serious illness on 4 May 1672, and to his doubt as to whether the artist would ever recover. Mary Beale's reference to his decease is in the following words: "Sunday, May 5, 1672 Mr Samuel Cooper, the most famous limner of the world for a face, dyed."


  • G. C. Williamson, History of Portrait Miniatures, vol. i. p. 64.

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