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21 March 2018
Suzanne Cooper’s passport photo 1933. There was an article here about her by Lucy Hughes-Hallett last Sunday which begins with this touching anecdote: ‘In 2014, I was in New Zealand to speak at a literary festival. With a couple of hours to spare, I went into the Auckland Art Gallery, admired the splendid Maori canoes, and then wandered upstairs to the collection of European art. I was standing in a room full of 18th-century portraits, when I saw – visible three rooms away through an enfilade of archways – a painting that I knew at once, even at that distance, must be by my mother-in-law, Suzanne Cooper. Her style is unmistakable. It was like bumping into a dear friend, unexpectedly, thousands of miles from home.’ And most Persephone readers will feel they are bumping into a dear friend when they see the 17 year-old in this photograph. There is something timeless, familiar and fascinating about her face.(Coincidentally we too visited Auckland Art Gallery in 2014 but were a little bit ranty about it: ‘This was rebuilt at huge expense a couple of years ago, quite cleverly attached to the Victorian building erected by Sir George Grey (very similar to Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood, maybe even the same architect).The new building is okay but far too elaborate and, as ever, you have the ridiculous situation of millions being spent on displaying paintings when the artists of course lived in penury; now they are safely dead their work can be lavishly displayed. Interesting that quite a lot of women painters – and three lovely paintings by Frances Hodgkins.’)
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