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Ashley David Cooper was a famous San Jose, California artist and bon vivant, who chronicled the passing of the frontier with canvases of grand style. He thumbed his nose at upper crust society and, leading a Bohemian life style, paid his bar bills with his paintings of nudes. Cooper achieved an international reputation for his grand and romantic renderings of American Indians, buffalo herds and frontiersmen--as well as his idealized portraits of partially clad young women. That Cooper's talents had been "dulled by John Barleycorn" remains open to debate, but he was most certainly an incorrigible carouser and lover of the nightlife, often to the consternation of San Jose's more polite society circles.
"Of the 16,000 artists I've chronicled," declares Edan Hughes, author of the definitive reference book, Artists in California1786-1940, "none was as colorful as Ashley David Middleton Cooper. That man knew how to live. He was a true Bohemian, and he loved to have a good time. He knew how to party. And paint. And then party some more. He had a zest for life unmatched in the artistic annals of California.”