Colin Campbell Cooper was born in Philadelphia and studied with Thomas Eakins at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He first traveled to Europe in 1885, where he continued his studies at the Académie Julian and the Académie Delacluse in Paris. During this sojourn, he also visited Belgium and Holland. Most of Cooper's works from this early period were destroyed by a fire in 1896. Five years later, he began a series of paintings depicting New York skyscrapers, and became known particularly for his depictions of these high-rise structures in New York and Philadelphia. His urban scenes are rendered in an impressionistic style that emphasizes effects of light and atmosphere, while conveying the dynamism of the city. Throughout his career, Cooper made numerous return trips to Europe, painting European subjects—always a popular favorite in America. He also worked as a portraitist. In the 1920s, after the death of his first wife, the artist Emma Lampert, Cooper moved to Santa Barbara, California, and established himself as a California painter. He taught at the local art school, established relationships with Los Angeles art dealers, and made a specialty of California garden scenes, while continuing to travel widely and paint foreign subjects.