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Gordon N. Cope

Gordon Cope was born in Salt Lake in Salt Lake City in 1906. He was an educator and WPA artist whose style was a vigorous impressionism. He died in 1999.

Cope acquired his artistic training from many sources. He studied in Utah with A. B. Wright and LeConte Stewart from 1916 until 1923, and in Arizona with Lawrence Squires from 1923 until 1924. He studied the work of the old masters in galleries in England, France, Switzerland, and Italy from 1924 to 1928. He began study at the Académie Julian in 1928.

Cope became involved with art education when he returned to Salt Lake City.  He was the head of the art department at Latter-day Saints University from 1930 to 1931. He maintained his work as an artist while he was director and teacher at the Mountain School of Art from 1932 to 1933. Some of his notable works are Utah Hills, East of Springville (1934) and Fishermen (1942). In 1934 he was commissioned to paint a portrait of the governor of Utah, Henry Blood.

Biographical information on this page was adapted from the Springville Museum of Art.

Having trained as a youth with well-known Utah artists such as A.B. Wright and LeConte Stewart, Gordon Nicholson Cope quickly became recognized as a major Utah artist of the Great Depression. Although he now resides in San Francisco, Cope was born in Salt Lake City in 1906 and spent much of his life in Utah.

Cope gained much of his artistic training from diverse environments and influences. Following his training with the previously mentioned artists, Cope spent the next year, 1924, working with Lawrence Squires in Arizona. To expand his knowledge and training, Cope traveled to Europe, where he studied the “old masters“ such as Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. From 1924 to 1928, Cope studied in England, France, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, and worked for a year at the Acadamie Julian, where many early Utah artists had studied.

Two years after returning home to Utah, Cope began his career at the Art Department at the L.D.S. University and worked there until 1931. Cope continued working as a painter while maintaining a career in art education. As an educator, Cope was employed with the Mountain School of Art from 1932 - 1933; and during 1939 - 1941, Cope was the Director of the Art Barn School (which became the Salt Lake Art Center), as well as continuing with the Mountain School of Art.

Gordon Cope now resides in San Francisco, and the Stable Gallery in Salt Lake City handles his works. Cope donated much of his time to civic duty during the 1930s. During Roosevelt's term, the President created the Works Projects Administration (W.P.A.) as part of his New Deal. According to Roosevelt, one aim of the administration was to account for what artistic material existed in America. The administration included ten artists, one of whom was Gordon Cope. He also was involved with other governmental work under the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, which included the completion of murals for the state capitol dome.

Cope's work is often termed “vigorous, impressionistic realism,“ (Swanson 182) displaying regionalism in genre scenes. In his A Record of Times, Cope displays life on the Uintah-Ouray Indian Reservation and exhibits his style and interest in genre scenes. Cope is also known for his portraits of notorious Utah figures and for his landscape paintings, such as Utah Hills. Much of Gordon Cope's time and work was dedicated to the progress of Utah art through his use of Utah subject matter as well as through literal service within the Utah art community.

Biography courtesy Springville Museum of Art.

Newspaper Articles

"Art Canvass." The Deseret News, January 22, 1989.

"Gordon Nicholson Cope." The Salt Lake Tribune, June 27, 1999.

"Obituary: Gordon Nicholson Cope." The Deseret News, June 27, 1999.


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 Last Modified 4/1/20