Thomas Sidney Cooper (1803-1902)
He was born at Canterbury, Kent, and as a small child he began to show strong artistic inclinations, but the circumstances of his family did not allow him to receive any systematic training. By the time he was twelve years old, he was working in the shop of a coach painter. Later he obtained a job as a scene painter; and he alternated between these two occupations for about eight years. He still felt a desire to become an artist, and all his spare moments were spent drawing and painting from nature. At the age of twenty he went to London, drew for a while in the British Museum, and was admitted as a student of the Royal Academy. He then returned to Canterbury, where he was able to earn a living as a drawing-master and by the sale of sketches and drawings. In 1827 he settled in Brussels and married; there he met Eugène Joseph Verboeckhoven. Because of the Belgian Revolution he returned to London, and by showing his first picture at the Royal Academy (1833) began an unprecedentedly prolonged career as an exhibitor. When the competition was announced for the decoration for the new Houses of Parliament, to be held at Westminster Hall in 1847, Cooper submitted The Defeat of Kellermann's Cuirassiers and Carabiniers by Somerset's Cavalry Brigade at Waterloo, June 18, 1815. In order to complete the picture, the artist used Siborne's model of the battlefield then on exhibition in London, while a friend in Brussels sent him breastplates worn by the various cavalry regiments, and a trooper of the Life Guards acted as a model. Cooper's name is mainly associated with pictures of cattle or sheep, a fact that earned him the epithet 'Cows Cooper'. Cooper collaborated between 1848 and 1856 with Frederick Richard Lee R.A. on several paintings, Lee undertaking the landscapes, and Cooper adding animals to complete the scene.
The largest public collection of Cooper paintings is owned by Canterbury City Council and housed at the Royal Museum and Art Gallery (Beaney Institute) in Canterbury. Examples are also held by the Tate Gallery, London, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and other public collections, mainly in Britain.