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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Carl Cooper

1945-1946
Arthur Boyd AC OBE

oil on canvas laid on masonite (frame: 84.0 cm x 72.5 cm, support: 74.5 cm x 63.0 cm)

Carl Cooper (1912-1966) was a ceramic decorator associated with the influential Boyd family. In the mid-1940s, he worked with Merric Boyd and John Perceval at AMB pottery, near the Boyd family home and studios ‘Open Country’ in Murrumbeena, just outside Melbourne. Cooper’s earthenware pieces were incised or painted in designs often influenced by Aboriginal bark paintings. Each day, Arthur Boyd’s brother David would push Cooper’s wheelchair to the pottery, Cooper having lost the use of his legs from poliomyelitis contracted in his twenties. A turbulent force within this prolific creative community, Arthur Boyd recollected Cooper as a ‘dissatisfied, fierce, crushed’ figure; ‘he’d have terrible fights with people . . . throw things and lash out at anyone.’ This psychologically intense portrait rigidly set against a dark sky conveys Cooper’s deep mental and physical discomfort. Cooper eventually set up his own studio, but illness forced him to cease production in 1963.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Bequest of Alan Boxer 2014
© Arthur Boyd
Arthur Boyd's work reproduced with the permission of the Bundanon Trust

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Arthur Boyd AC OBE (age 25 in 1945)

Carl Cooper (age 33 in 1945)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

Estate of Alan Boxer (2 portraits)

Related information

The Companion

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Arthur Boyd's studio
Arthur Boyd's studio
Arthur Boyd's studio
Arthur Boyd's studio

Boyd to man

Magazine article by Dr Christopher Chapman, 2016

Christopher Chapman looks at influences and insight in the formative years of Arthur Boyd.

Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd
Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd
Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd
Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd

Arthur as Alyosha?

Magazine article by Patrick McCaughey, 2015

Patrick McCaughey explores a striking Boyd self portrait.

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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