Thomas Cooper (1803-1902)
Landscape with Sheep (c.1860)
oil on wood
20.1 x 30.4 cm
Gift of Howard Hinton 1931
Born 1803, Canterbury, England. Died 1902.
This small painting was amongst the first donated by Howard Hinton to the Armidale Teachers' College. It hung in the alcove on the first floor of the College for many years. Its depiction of five sheep, all but one resting, in British pasture lands, likely drew comparisons to the New England landscape of Australia in which it later came to hang.
Thomas Sidney Cooper (Royal Academician), was an English landscape painter known for his images of farm animals. This fact earnt him the epithet “Cow Cooper”. He had a strong inclination for artistic pursuits as an adolescent, and spent all his spare moments drawing and painting from nature whilst being employed as a coach painter and as a scene painter. At the age of twenty he went to London and was admitted as a student of the Royal Academy. He made a living as a drawing master in Canterbury before settling in Brussels for several years. Returning to London because of the Belgian Revolution, he first exhibited with the Royal Academy in 1833 and began a long career as an exhibitor. Examples of his work are held at the Tate Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum, in London, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Although Hinton most certainly purchased this painting in England, Cooper's work was well known in Australia. The Telegraph, Queensland, in commemorating the artist's 93rd birthday, republished an English newspaper's anecdote about Cooper's reputation for great patience: “having selected a restless cow out of a herd, he watched every movement and followed her for several days before he was able to finish his sketches, when he computed he had walked fully 100 miles during the process”.