Archival Labels
Head of a Woman (Portrait of the Artist's Mother)
Juan Gris
Paris, 1912
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Cooper Estate

The British collector and art historian Douglas Cooper (1911–1984) died at the age of 72, a year after his important exhibition The Essential Cubism, 1907–1920: Braque, Picasso and Their Friends was shown at the Tate Gallery in London. His romantic partner and adopted son William McCarty-Cooper (1937–1991) was his chosen heir. McCarty-Cooper hoped to sell the collection to an individual who would keep the works together and hired art historians Angelica Rudenstine and Dorothy Kosinski to assess potential buyers. As Leonard Lauder recalled, "A date was made for McCarty-Cooper’s representatives to visit me; apparently, he wanted to vet my collection to see if it was worthy of receiving some of Douglas’s pictures. [They] looked around and said that the core of my collection—some eight major works by then—was the right match. We made a date to view the Cooper works in Geneva. I was wildly excited and immediately reserved a plane ticket. I had no idea of the vastness of the collection." 

At that time, in November 1986, Leonard Lauder acquired four paintings and eleven works on paper. In his contract with McCarty-Cooper, he retained the right to purchase additional works, and he followed up on that clause, buying three drawings in February 1989, one painting in March 1987, and a watercolor from McCarty-Cooper's estate in September 1991. The remaining works in McCarty-Cooper's collection–91 lots of modern art and a large group of tribal art and antiquities–were sold at Christie’s, New York, in May 1992. 

This oval label was made after Cooper’s death, presumably in connection with McCarty-Cooper’s inventory of the collection. The example reproduced here appears on the back of Gris’s Head of a Woman (Portrait of the Artist’s Mother) (1912). A similar label, annotated “83–84,” is affixed to the backboard of Picasso’s Head of a Man (1908). Both works were part of Leonard Lauder's initial 1986 purchase.  

For more information, see:

Braun, Emily. “Index of Historic Collectors and Dealers of Cubism: Cooper, Douglas.” In Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (January 2015)

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