Samuel Cooper

Sir Thomas Smith

1667

Sorry, no image available

Not on display

Artist
Samuel Cooper 1609–1672
Medium
Watercolour on vellum
Dimensions
Frame, circular: 70 × 60 × 3 mm
Collection
Lent from a private collection 2012
On long term loan
Reference
L02992

Summary

This miniature depicting future Court official Sir Thomas Smith is signed in monogram and dated, lower left: ‘SC. / 1667’. Painted in the early years of Charles II’s reign, its young sitter is depicted against a royal blue background in a luxurious silk robe, probably made of fabric imported from the Far East, at a time when Britain’s overseas trade links were expanding. The sitter is identified by an inscription on the back of the miniature’s case.

Samuel Cooper opened a studio in London in 1642, just as Civil War was breaking out. Nevertheless, his career flourished and he became the leading portrait-miniaturist of the mid- to late seventeenth century, with an international reputation. His most celebrated sitter of the Commonwealth years was Oliver Cromwell. Cooper was able to convey a powerful sense of naturalism, which was clearly admired by a wide range of sitters, and was commended by poets of the time. Following the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660, Charles II appointed Cooper his official miniature-painter (the ‘King’s limner’) and numerous miniatures by Cooper of the monarch and other Court figures survive.

Further reading
John Murdoch, Seventeenth-Century Miniatures in the Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London 1997, pp.115–72.
Alison Smith (ed.), Watercolour, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2011, pp.52–5, reproduced p.55.

Karen Hearn
December 2011

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

Display caption

This miniature of Sir Thomas Smith is signed with initials of the artist and dated, lower left: SC./1667. Samuel Cooper was one of the leading miniature painters of the 17th century. His career began in London during the 1640s and the civil wars, Cooper producing the famous ‘warts and all’ image of Oliver Cromwell. This did not stop him finding favour with Charles II when his was restored to the throne, the painter being appointed the ‘king’s limner’ in 1663 confirming his position as the pre-eminent miniaturist in Britain.

Gallery label, February 2016

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

You might like