William T. Cooper (born 1934), in Newcastle, is an Australian artist. He trained originally as a landscape and seascape artist but achieved renown through natural history scientific illustrations, especially of birds. Cooper also became a qualified taxidermist in his teenage years. His first book was "Portfolio of Australian Birds", written by Keith Hindwood in 1967. After which, he illustrated "Parrots of the World", "Birds of Paradise and Bowerbirds", "Australian Parrots", "Kingfishers and Related Birds", "The Cockatoos (a Portfolio of all Species)", "Turacos (a Portfolio of all Species)" all authored by Joseph M Forshaw. In 1992 the Academy of Natural Sciences Philadelphia USA, presented Cooper with their gold medal for 'artistic endeavors and life's work which have contributed to mankind's better understanding and appreciation of living things' He is the first and only Australian recipient in its 190 year history. Then in 1994, Cooper was awarded the Order of Australia (AO) for his contribution to art and natural history. William T Cooper’s work is held in many collections and institutions around the world including the National Library of Australia and the New Guinea government who purchased entire collections of his published works and commissioned two sets of postage stamps. His paintings have illustrated some of the finest books published..
Cooper is a naturalist and has drawn for as long as he can remember. His knowledge of his subjects is evident in his paintings which display extreme precision and he is known for painting the birds in their distinct natural environments down to the exact foods they eat. He prefers to draw from life rather than needing to depend on photographs as the main source of material for his work, notably venturing into wild, untamed parts of the world to capture the exact display of the birds he paints. He lives with his wife, Wendy Cooper, a self-taught botanist who has authored two substantial books, in north Queensland where his studio is surrounded by tropical rainforest. Sir David Attenborough has described William T Cooper as “Australia's greatest living scientific painter of birds, he is possibly the best in the world.” Sir David made a film about Cooper in 1993 called, “Portrait Painter to the Birds”. A biography "An Eye For Nature - The Life and Art of William T Cooper", written by Penny Olsen and published by The National Library of Australia was launched in February 2014. A further documentary is proposed to be released in 2014. He has also illustrated "Visions of a Rainforest" by Stanley Breeden & "Fruits of the Australian Tropical Rainforest" by Wendy Cooper. In 2011 he wrote and illustrated "Capturing the Essence", a book that illustrates and describes techniques for artists