American painter of exuberantly humorous and often erotic figure and still-life pictures; also well-known as a collector of Surrealist works and patron. Born in New York. Studied at Yale University, then fought in Italy during the Second World War. Started painting as a hobby, self-taught, in 1946, encouraged by Man Ray, Ernst and Duchamp, and had his first one-man exhibition at Roger's Bookshop, Los Angeles, in 1946 or 1947. Opened the short-lived Copley Galleries at Beverly Hills 1947-8, dealing in works by Cornell, Ernst, Magritte, Matta, Man Ray and Tanguy. Lived in Paris and Longpont-sur-Orge (Seine-et-Oise) 1951-63, exhibiting widely as a painter. Created the William and Noma Copley Foundation in 1954 to assist creative painters, sculptors and composers. Since 1963 has lived in New York. Signs his work 'Cply'.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.130-1