GEORGE COPE (1855–1929)
Shotgun and Game, 1885
Oil on canvas, 31 x 25 in.
Signed, dated, and inscribed (at lower right): Geo Cope 1885 / F.N.
RECORDED: West Chester, Pennsylvania, Daily Local News (April 15, 1885) // West Chester, Pennsylvania, Daily Local News (April 21, 1885) // Gertrude Grace Sill, “George Cope, Painter of West Chester, Pennsylvania,” in Antiques CXVI (November 1979), pp. 1142, 1143 fig. 7, as in the collection of Moses W. Cornwell and Josephine Cornwell Oas
EXHIBITED: Brandywine River Museum, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and The Dayton Art Institute, Ohio, 1978, George Cope, 1885–1929, pp. 15, 39 no. 42, 63 illus., lent by Moses W. Cornwell and Josephine Cornwell Oas // Frank Schwartz & Sons, Philadelphia, 1984, Flower, Fruit and other Still Life Paintings, no. 30 illus. in color // Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, 1994, Call of the Wild: A Sportsman’s Life, no. 14 illus. in color
EX COLL.: the artist, 1885; to Mrs. Pratt Roberts, 1885, for $100.00; Moses W. Cornwell and Josephine Cornwell Oas, by 1978
A Quaker from West Chester, in the Brandywine River Valley, Pennsylvania, George Cope inherited his mother’s talent for painting and drawing. He was a largely self-taught artist, and received his only formal art instruction, in the fundamentals of the oil technique, when he was twenty-one, under Herman Herzog (1831–1932), a respected Philadelphia landscape painter working in the academic realist style.
While this painting depicts the trophies of the hunt, it is unique in its introduction into the composition of a section of floor, and a geometrically designed rug border.
Shotgun and Game was received favorably when first shown in the shop window of a local jewelry store in West Chester, to judge by its notice in the West Chester Daily Local News (April 15, 1885): "A Fine Picture.—Mr. George Cope has placed in Hill’s jewelry store window his latest painting from Nature, the subject being one to fascinate the eye of the people generally and that of the sportsmen in particular. Mr. C. has skillfully grouped a rabbit, pheasant, two partridges and a double-barreled gun, and in a word his work is very faithful and artistic. The picture is pleasing because of the fine coloring so abundantly distributed through it and in point of texture and careful handling it is Mr. Cope’s best work. It needs but a glance to convince the observer that great labor has attended the production of this fine painting, details being carefully observed and the drawing faultless. Mr. C. holds it for sale at a price which must certainly early gain for it an eager purchaser."