19th Century Portrait Oil Painting Attributed to Washington Bogart Cooper – Possible Portrait of Felix Randolf Robertson
A large 19th Century Portrait Oil Painting attributed to renowned Tennessee portrait artist Washington Bogart Cooper (Tennessee, September 18, 1802 – March 30, 1888) | Oil on canvas | Possibly portrait of Felix Randolf Robertson, son of Dr. Felix Robertson, founder of Nashville, Tennessee | Housed in a beautiful antique rococo style ornate gold gilded gesso wood frame.
A large 19th Century Portrait Oil Painting attributed to renowned Tennessee portrait artist Washington Bogart Cooper (Tennessee, September 18, 1802 – March 30, 1888) | Oil on canvas | Housed in a beautiful antique rococo style ornate gold gilded gesso wood frame | Dimensions: Canvas only: 29″ H x 24.25″ W;” with frame: 45.50″ H x 38.25″ W x 5.50″ D | Condition: several spots of a paper-like substance appear to have adhered to the varnish layer in the backgrounds above the subject’s head and in the right quadrant background, most like reversible with cleaning. Light craquelure.
Provenance: While the identity of the person depicted in this portrait is not known with certainty, the painting has descended through and since the 19th century owned by a longtime Nashville family with ties to the family of Confederate General Benjamin Franklin Cheatham and Nashville founder James Robertson. It has been suggested that the subject is Felix Randolf Robertson, son of Dr. Felix Robertson, founder and mayor of Nashville, Tennessee.
About the Artist: Washington Bogart Cooper (Tennessee, September 18, 1802 – March 30, 1888) was a famed American portrait painter, sometimes known as “the man of a thousand portraits”.
Washington Bogart Cooper was born near Jonesborough, Tennessee, on September 18, 1802, one of nine children. A brother, William Brown Cooper (1811–1890), also became a painter. As a child, he lived near Carthage, Tennessee and Shelbyville, Tennessee. He studied art with Ralph Eleaser Whiteside Earl in Murfreesboro and settled in Nashville in 1830. In 1831, he went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to study art with Thomas Sully and Henry Inman, and returned to Nashville in 1832.
From 1837 to 1848, Cooper averaged thirty-five portraits a year. His portraits of Tennessee governors, commissioned by the Tennessee Historical Society, can be seen in the Tennessee State Capitol and the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville. He also did portraits for the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Tennessee, And a portrait of Alexander Campbell. The Tennessee State Museum holds fifty of his portraits. His account book can be found on microfilm in the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Some of his portraits are in Natchez, Mississippi, where he made a trip with his brother.
In 1839, Cooper married Ann Litton from Dublin, Ireland. The couple had four children: James (1840–1843), James Litton (1844–1924), Kate (1846–1919), and Joseph Litton (1849–1936). A portrait of the three younger children is displayed in the Tennessee State Museum. The artist’s family has a portrait that Cooper painted of his wife in about 1842. It is unlike his typical work, in that it shows the subject in profile, reading. It is considered to resemble Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s A Young Girl Reading.
Washington Cooper died of pneumonia on March 30, 1888, at the age of eighty-six, and he is buried in the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville.
XL (greater than 40 in.)