Born in Edinburgh, Cooper was apprenticed to his father, the artist Richard Cooper, the Elder (1701 – 1764) and trained as a reproductive engraver. He is best known for his landscape drawings and his copy drawings after paintings by the old masters. He spent much of the 1760s and 1770s on an extensive continental tour of France, Italy and Spain, during which he made ‘a collection of drawings from the proper pictures for prints. He later became drawing master at Eton, where he was in post from at least 1791 until 1808. The Galleries collection includes two albums put together by Cooper as scrapbooks: An Album and Album of 86 Leaves and 93 Drawings. They contain copy drawings after works seen in Spain and Italy during the late 1760s.