Richard Cooper, the Elder

Prince Charles Edward Stuart, 1720 - 1788. Eldest son of Prince James Francis Edward Stuart ('Wanted Poster') (1745)

About this artwork

The mythical persona surrounding Bonnie Prince Charlie was undeniably influenced by the depictions of him as a ‘Highland Laddie’. Having lived in exile, Charles landed in Scotland in 1745 with the aim of reinstating the Stuart monarchy. His self conscious attempt to associate himself with the Highlands was effective in gaining alliances and tartan quickly became part of his armour. The earliest portraits of the Prince in tartan however, were by those who opposed the Jacobite cause. This coloured print by Cooper satirises the Young Pretender’s Highland guise and advertises an award for his arrest. As he appears comical in his elaborate dress with a manifesto falling to the ground, it was almost certainly rendered before Charles captured Edinburgh later that year.

Richard Cooper, the Elder

Richard Cooper, the Elder

Richard Cooper was most likely born in Yorkshire but studied engraving under John Pine in London. In 1725 he moved to Edinburgh where he remained until his death in 1764. On his arrival in the Scottish capital he quickly established a successful business and dominated the market, engraving a variety of subjects including maps, music, tickets and portraits. He was one of the founders of the earliest academy of artists in Scotland, the Edinburgh School of St Luke. In 1736 the young Robert Strange was apprenticed to him; Strange went on to become one of the most significant engravers of the eighteenth century. By 1751, although Cooper was a drawing tutor to various noble ladies, his studio remained at the forefront of printing in Scotland.