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What's in a Name

Unraveling the 'M' in A.D.M. Cooper

By Geoffrey Dunn

There seems to be a bit of controversy surrounding Cooper's second middle name. Some resource guides claim it to be "Montague," while others assert that it's "Middleton." M.D. Zellman's 300 Years of American Art and the catalog for the 1976 Triton Museum exhibition invoke the former, while Clyde Arbuckle's History of San Jose sides with the latter. Many art historians skirt the issue by leaving the "M." unidentified.

The San Jose Mercury News can't seem to make up its mind. A 1990 blurb in the paper referred to "Astley Middleton Cooper" (sans the David), while a 1986 article about the Stanford museum listed the middle name as "Montague." More often than not, however, the Mercury has opted for the noncommittal "M."

Edan Hughes' encyclopedic Artists in California identifies the artist's third name as Middleton. "I suspect Montague was an affectation of Cooper's or perhaps something of a practical joke," says Hughes. "But all my research clearly points to Middleton. That Montague business is nonsense."

Hughes also notes that Cooper signed certain paintings in later years as "David Middleton." "There used to be one signed by that name in the Old Mint Building in San Francisco," says Hughes, "along with four or five others signed A.D.M. Cooper." The building is closed indefinitely, and when I asked, the property managers for the U.S. Treasury Department had no idea where the Cooper/Middleton collection has been relocated.

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From the Mar. 7-13, 1996 issue of Metro

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