An eye for nature: the life and art of William T. Cooper.

An eye for nature: the life and art of William T. Cooper. Penny Olsen.
An eye for nature: the life and art of William T. Cooper.
An eye for nature: the life and art of William T. Cooper.
An eye for nature: the life and art of William T. Cooper.

Canberra: National Library of Australia, (2015. reprint). Quarto, colour illustrations and photographs, fine copy in dustwrapper.

NOW OUT OF PRINT. Foreword by Sir David Attenborough. A wonderfully produced work on celebrated wildlife artist William T. Cooper. Illustrated with nearly 200 paintings and sketches, including never before published bird and landscape paintings, this biography by well-known author Penny Olsen traces the path of Cooper's life and art.

In the work of artist William T. Cooper, platypuses swim in green underwater worlds, waves throw up blankets of spray, embers glow in the aftermath of a bushfire, a Thylacine emerges from the shadows, sniffing the air. But it is his paintings of birds which set Cooper apart—his raucous cockatoos, colourful parrots, animated turacos and flamboyantly displaying birds of paradise. Often placed in meticulously studied landscapes, these intricate bird portraits reveal Cooper’s close observation not only of his subjects’ appearance, but their habits, poses and behaviour.

In this biography, Penny Olsen traces the path of Cooper’s life and art—from his childhood spent in the bush, to his teenage years as an apprentice taxidermist at Carey Bay Zoo and, later, to his work as a window dresser and landscape artist. She documents his fruitful partnership with wife and collaborator Wendy Cooper and his extensive travels in Australia and abroad in pursuit of his subjects. Olsen’s commentary reveals the development of an artist and the trajectory of a life, while extracts from Cooper’s extensive field notebooks give an insight into his interests and processes.

Illustrated with photographs, paintings and sketches, and includes a portfolio of bird and landscape paintings that have never before been published.

About the author:
Penny Olsen is a research scientist and natural history writer based at The Australian National University in Canberra. She has written more than 20 books, her most recent including Cayley &Son: The Life and Art of Neville Henry Cayley & Neville William Cayley (2013), Collecting Ladies: Ferdinand von Mueller and Women Botanical Artists (2013), Upside Down World: Early European Impressions of Australia’s Curious Animals (2010) and Glimpses of Paradise: The Quest for the Beautiful Parrakeet (2007) for which she received a Whitely Award from the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales.

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