Thomas Sidney Cooper was one of the foremost animal painters of the Victorian period. He was greatly encouraged by Abraham Cooper (of no relation) and Sir Thomas Lawrence. Cooper entered the Royal Academy Schools before taking up a position as a teacher in Brussels in 1829. It was here he became friends with Eugene Joseph Verboeckhoven, the great Belgian animal painter. Verboekhoven greatly influenced his style, and Cooper was captivated by the Dutch artists of the 17th century.


In 1831 Cooper settled in London and he first exhibited at Suffolk Street in 1833. He exhibited forty-eight pictures at the British Institution between 1833 and 1863. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1845 and Royal Academician on the 22nd June 1867. His work was shown until 1902 without a break, a record for a continuous exhibit at the Royal Academy.