Ernest Cooper, Esq.

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Ernest Cooper, Esq.

Ernest Cooper, Esq., c.1949
Oil on canvas, 51 cm x 40.5 cm

Ernest Cooper (1910–98) was the owner of the successful London Health Centre Ltd health-food business, which he had established in 1934 and which by the late 1940s had branches in Kensington, Golders Green and the West End of London, and later in Oxford, Buxton and Kingston upon Thames. Sarah Roberts had got to know him through his first wife, Sadie, who for a time worked at the Ben Uri Gallery, which had dealings with her brother, Jacob Kramer, and she introduced him to her husband. From the late 1940s he was to become Roberts's chief patron, eventually acquiring some 20 oils and nearly 50 other works (mainly watercolours), mostly bought direct from the artist and including some illustrations for the LHC. There was later some acrimony towards Cooper in relation to his purchase of Trooping the Colour at a sixth of its asking price in 1959, and he ceased to be a patron of Roberts. In 1972 he staged a large exhibition of his William Roberts collection at his local gallery – Worthing Art Gallery – and eventually the collection was broken up and sold through auction in the 1980s and 1990s.
PROVENANCE: Purchased from the artist by Ernest Cooper > Sotheby's 3 Mar. 1999 (estimate £1,000–£1,500; unsold)
EXHIBITION HISTORY: Royal Academy 1949, Southampton 1967, Worthing 1972
Cf. Playmates 1957

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