Jacques-Louis David, 1748-1825
Portrait of Cooper Penrose, 1802
Oil on canvas, 130.5 x 97.5 cm (51-3/8 x 38-3/8 in.)
Cooper Penrose traveled from Ireland to Paris in 1802 to commission Jacques- Louis David, the most famous painter in Europe, to paint his portrait. Penrose, an Irish member of a prominent Quaker family, was a successful businessman and landowner but was criticized by the Society of Friends for his lavish tastes. David brings the sitter down to earth by positioning the head lower on the canvas than is traditional in French portraiture. Attention is drawn to the brilliantly painted head and hands, which form a triangle in the center of the composition.
Cooper Penrose, thence by descent until 1953 
Wildenstein & Co., New York
Acquired by the Putnam Foundation, 1953
 A letter from David to Penrose regarding the commission and the payment schedule remained with the Penrose family and is now in the archives of the Timken Museum of Art, along with a typescript history of the Penrose family compiled in August 1966 by direct descendants of the sitter.