William Nelson Copley - Paradis - image-1
William Nelson Copley - Paradis - image-2
William Nelson Copley - Paradis - image-1William Nelson Copley - Paradis - image-2

Lot 28 D

William Nelson Copley - Paradis

Auction 1223 - overview Cologne
06.06.2023, 18:00 - Evening Sale - Modern and Contemporary Art
Estimate: 100.000 € - 150.000 €
Result: 126.000 € (incl. premium)

William Nelson Copley


Oil on canvas. 72 x 100 cm. Framed. Signed and dated 'cply 59'. Signed, dated and titled 'PARADIS cply 59' on canvas verso. - With studio traces and minor traces of age.

William Copley’s light-hearted style is characterised by a seemingly childlike naivety, his figures often painted with a disarming immediacy. At first sight, Copley’s themes are not always obvious as he often embedded his criticism of US politics or affluent society in ironic and humorous scenarios. In the present work, for example, over 150 unclothed female and male figures are bustling in a wide variety of leisure activities. The sports, which are depicted against a green marbled background, range from archery, gymnastics, and weightlifting to volleyball and ping pong. In the lower half of the picture a blonde is lounging on a striped towel. The title “Paradis” aptly describes how many little Adams and Eves come together here in utter exuberance. Striking are the many red apples that appear again and again, whether as a volleyball or as a weight on the barbell. The viewer may be reminded of Hieronymus Bosch’s "Garden of Earthly Delights" and speculate whether the depicted scene is meant to satirise the post-war body-cult, and whether the figures are aware of the Fall from Grace despite the omnipresent apple (of temptation).


The present work is registered with the Estate of William N. Copley, New York.


Collection of Richard Hamilton, London (1972); Private ownership, Northern Germany