- Also known as
primary name: Cooper, Edward
- individual; publisher/printer; British; Male
- Life dates
- 1682 active-1725 died
- The Three Pigeons in Bedford Street, Covent Garden
- The major London print publisher of the end of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries; lived and published throughout his career at the Three Pigeons in Bedford Street, just off Covent Garden. Although he published numerous engravings, the bulk of his production was of mezzotints; he published the prints of Isaac Beckett, Robert Williams, Bernard Lens, John Simon, William Faithorne the Younger and Peter Pelham among others; for a short period in 1684-9 he published some plates of John Smith.
Nothing is known about his origins, and the first sign of his activity lies in an advertisement in the True Protestant Mercury for 21 February 1682 for a print of a Popish Plot subject, jointly published with L Curtiss; his first advertisement in the London Gazette of 19 August 1686 was for a mezzotint after Wissing of the Royal family, and many of his publications of the 1680s were after Wissing's paintings, with whom he had evidently come to an arrangement for the exclusive publication of his paintings (see 'Print Quarterly' VI 1989 pp.251-4); in later years he seems to have held a similar position with Michael Dahl.
On 6 December 1686 Cooper announced in the London Gazette (also in the Stationers' Register for 1 December and in the Term catalogue for ?) that he had been granted a Royal License 'for the sole printing the effigies draughts and portraitures, which he hath already done or shall hereafter do in mezzotinto, for the term of fourteen years, with prohibition to all others to print or copy the same in great or small'. (The original dated 26 November 1686 is in SP44/337, 144-5.) His prints after this date can be distinguished by the words 'cum privilegio Regis', which he was still using as late as 1720 (eg CS p.972 no.19); a similar privilege had been awarded two years earlier to Alexander Browne, but no other such blanket privilege was ever given to another publisher; Cooper was a leading virtuoso, and member of the society of Virtuosi of St Luke of which he was steward in 1714 (I.Bignamini, Walpole Society, LIV 1988, p.34); he is mentioned as a supplier of prints in the Talman letterbook (Walpole Society LIX 1997, pp.59 and 67), but it is very difficult to form any assessment of his importance in the trade in old master prints - although it was probably very considerable; an impression of an engraving by Marcantonio in the British Museum (Bartsch 113, 1972 U.1223) is annotated '5 guineas of Mr Cooper qui emeret in auctione P.Lelii' (the sale was in 1688); he was one of Vertue's informants in the Notebooks, and gave him some valuable information about the early history of mezzotint (esp. I 35); Cooper may also have been an auctioneer, and was certainly one of the main distributors of auction catalogues; a sale in 1719 was of pictures said to have been collected by him. (see Timothy Clayton, 'The English Print 1688-1702', 1997, p.30)
The sale 'of the large and curious collection of prints and drawings of Mr Edward Cooper (who is leaving off the business)' was announced in the Daily Courant of 2 February 1723; catalogues were available at his house in Bedford Street (no copy survives). On 1 May 1725 the sale of 'the shop and household goods belonging to the late Mr Edward Cooper' was announced in the Daily Post, and was to be held at his late dwelling house in Bedford Street (subsequent advertisements appeared on 8,13 and 24 May), consisting 'of copper-plates both graved and mezzotinto' as well as a 'four wheel'd chaise'; on 24 May the same paper carried a notice that 25 copper plates of Barlow's birds and beasts had been stolen during the viewing, and his widow offered a guinea reward for their return with no questions asked (For these sales, see Clayton, op.cit. p.3; no copy of either catalogue has been found);
Cooper's portrait in mezzotint by Peter Pelham after a painting by Jan Vandervaart was issued in 1724 (CS 9) and a similar portrait by Pelham of Mrs Priscilla Cooper after Michael Dahl (CS 10) probably shows his wife, neither has the name of a publisher and were presumably private plates; Faithorne's mezzotint after Lely of a young girl being given grapes by a blackamoor (CS 7) was identified by Bull as being of 'Eliz.Cooper, daughter to the printseller of that name' (Bute Granger XVII 91) and a similar portrait of a boy lettered John Cooper (CS 8) by Faithorne after Kerseboom must show his son who certainly bore this name. From 1725 until his death in 1729 John Cooper supplied catalogues of auction sales from his house in Covent Garden Piazza and was left in his father's will 'one shilling British money and no more by reason I have already given him a greater part or share out of what I had than by his behaviour to me he hath deserved' (Clayton p.30, giving a reference to PRO Prob 12/95 602).
- Will TNA Prob 3/24/190 (in York/Tate Art World in Britain 1660-1735 database)