William Couper (sculptor)

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William Couper
Natural history (1919) (14778611701).jpg
Born(1853-09-20)September 20, 1853
DiedJune 23, 1942(1942-06-23) (aged 88)
Known forsculpture

William L Couper (September 20, 1853 – June 23, 1942) was an American sculptor.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Couper studied in Munich and Florence, and remained in the latter city for 22 years before returning to the United States and establishing himself in New York in 1897 as a portraitist and sculptor of busts in the modern Italian manner.[1] He and Thomas Ball purchased a three-story brick building on 17th Street in Manhattan to serve as shared studio space.[2]

He married Eliza Chickering Ball, daughter of sculptor Thomas Ball (1819–1911), in Florence in 1878. He was also a colleague of Daniel Chester French.

He sculpted the figure of the Roman goddess Flora for the exhibit of the Apollinaris Company at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893.[3] At the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901 his work won a bronze medal.[4]

Couper retired from sculpting in 1913.[4]

Couper is well known for his winged figures, such as the Recording Angel at the Couper family plot in Elmwood Cemetery in Norfolk and allegorical figures, such as Psyche and A Crown for the Victor, in the collection of the Montclair Art Museum.

Couper lived much of his life in Montclair, New Jersey, where he built a large neoclassical villa he named Poggioridente or "laughing knoll".[5] He had a home in Cortland, New York, as well. His wife died in 1939. They had several sons, one of whom, Thomas Ball Couper, lived in Montclair. His son Richard Hamilton Couper, a landscape painter, died in 1918 at the age of 33.[6]

He spent his last year at his other son William's farm in Bozman, Maryland, and died in an Easton, Maryland hospital after a brief illness on June 23, 1942.[4]



  1. ^ The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Vol. IX. James T. White & Company. 1907. p. 58. Retrieved November 23, 2020 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "In the Real Estate Field" (PDF). New York Times. December 14, 1897. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  3. ^ "Apollinaris at the World's Fair" (PDF). New York Times. June 14, 1893. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d "William Couper, Sculptor, was 88" (PDF). New York Times. June 25, 1942. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  5. ^ Raynor, Vivien (December 27, 1981). "The Magnet of Montclair: Its Attractions on View". New York Times. Retrieved December 6, 2007.
  6. ^ "Richard Hamilton Couper, Artist" (PDF). New York Times. March 21, 1918. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Give Jessup Statue to History Museum" (PDF). New York Times. February 4, 1910. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  8. ^ "Portraits in the Round: Busts of Charles Darwin". Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  9. ^ "Richmond on the James". Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  10. ^ Manchester, William (October 6, 1974). "The Founding a Grandfather" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved February 25, 2015.


  • Couper, Greta Elena, An American Sculptor on the Grand Tour: The Life and Works of William Couper (1853–1942), TreCavalli Press, 1988, ISBN 9780962063541

External links[edit]