COLIN CAMPBELL COOPER, NA
1856 - 1937
Title: “New York From Brooklyn”
Date: c. 1922
Size: Height 30 3/4 inches Width 36 inches (framed)
This distinguished American Impressionist artist was born in Philadelphia in 1856 to an upper class family where the father was a surgeon, and Cooper was encouraged by his educated family to pursue art. Colin Campbell Cooper earned an international reputation and was especially noted for street scenes and skyscrapers of New York and Philadelphia. His impressionist palette was inspired by Childe Hassam, whom he met in New York beginning in the 1890s.
In 1878 Cooper joined the Philadelphia Sketch Club and in 1879, he exhibited with the Philadelphia Society of Artists and joined the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA). At PAFA, he studied under Thomas Eakins for three years. In 1881 Cooper set up his own shop on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. In 1886 he travelled abroad, painting picturesque architectural scenes which gained him widespread recognition. He studied at the Adademies Julian, Vitti and Decluse in Paris, painted in Brittany and copied Old Masters at the Prado. He exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1890 and 1901.
In 1895 he was back in Philadelphia, teaching courses in watercolour at the Drexel Institute, and in 1897 he married Emma Lampert, also a painter. He taught at Drexel until 1898, when he moved to New York City. In 1902 Cooper began painting the new American building, the skyscraper, and thus documenting the modern city.
In 1897, Cooper exhibited The Pageant at Bruges in New York at the exhibition of the Society of American Artists. This painting clearly illustrated Cooper’s talent for architectural subjects. From 1902-1903 he painted a series of views of the Wells Cathedral in England, exhibiting the series at PAFA in 1903. It was at this time in the early 20th century when New York City was growing by leaps and bounds that Cooper begin to paint the “skyscraper city.” Art historian, Bill Gerdts, notes “Cooper identified the year 1902 as the start of his fascination with this theme; returning from abroad in December, he was immediately impressed by the soaring skyline of the modern city, and within a year critics were already writing of his “Skyscraper Series.” Critics praised Cooper as “the first artist to discover the artistic possibilities, the canyon like beauty, of streets of modern skyscrapers.”
In 1904, Cooper and his wife moved to New York into the studio building on West 57th Street. He remained there until he moved to California in 1921 where he served as Dean of Painting at the Santa Barbara Community School.
In a 2006 Exhibition East Coast / West Coast and Beyond, Colin Campbell Cooper American Impressionist, Cooper is celebrated for his two greatest achievements as an artist: his prominence in the Santa Barbara Impressionist community and his mastery of painting the “skyscraper city,” New York.
In New York from Brooklyn, Cooper depicts the view of lower Manhattan from Brooklyn. He exquisitely captured the piers of Brooklyn as they were operating as the major gateway into the East Coast, as well as the ultimate collection of skyscrapers, most of which had only recently been completed. The era is exceptionally rendered by the bustling figures of the sightseers and dockworkers in the foreground. Cooper, in his characteristic style, exemplified the golden light shining down on the buildings and the contacting deep purple shadows that are cast between them. The steam from the ships and the docks is almost palpable. New York from Brooklyn is a quintessential example of Cooper’s skyline series and of the development in New York City at the beginning of the 20th Century.
Cooper was a member of numerous associations including the California Art Club, Salmagundi Club, and the National Academy of Design. His work is in many museums including the Cincinnati Art Museum, the St. Louis Museum, and the Oakland Museum.
Exhibitions: "East Coast/West Coast and Beyond - Colin Campbell Cooper: American Impressionist," The Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, New York, November 4, 2006 - January 14, 2007; Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, California, February 25 - June 3, 2007.; "Masters of the Collection," (2012), Jersey City Museum of Art, Jersey City, New Jersey.
Provenance: The Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, New Jersey. Gift of Nellie Wright Allen (1940).