The Botanical Art of William T Cooper
By Wendy Cooper
NLA Publishing – 324pp
As an ardent admirer of fine botanical art, being offered a review copy of this book was like manna from heaven to me!
William T (Bill) Cooper was one of the world’s most highly acclaimed painters of birds, in which the plants on which his subjects ‘posed’ of feasted featured prominently. This book contains many of his preliminary sketches, studies and paintings of plants and parts thereof, as well as the finished illustrations with birds in which they appear.
While the plants are secondary to and form the backdrop for his magnificent bird portraits, they are brilliantly executed and celebrate the flora of Australia. They form the subject of this lavishly illustrated book written by Bill’s wife, the botanist Wendy Cooper.
Her notes, which include such details as where specimens were collected and what it was that drew Bill to a specific branch, fruit or flower, add a dynamic dimension to the artworks themselves as well as being botanically and taxonomically accurate in the details.
This is not the first collaboration of this gifted couple. Previous works include Australian Tropical Rainforest and Australian Rainforest Fruits: A Field Guide.
This book also includes contributions from naturalist Rupert Russell.
A beautiful hardcover book published by the National Library of Australia, in which I could regularly lose myself for many hours, The Botanical Art of William T Cooper celebrates the artist’s life and brings his superb work to a new audience of gardeners, horticulturists and plant lovers with an appreciation of the at of plants.
– Noelle Weatherley