Daniel Cottier was a stained glass artist, collector, designer, and decorative and fine arts dealer. Cottier dealt in and collected nineteenth century French, British, Dutch, and American paintings and decorative arts. In 1869 Cottier founded Cottier & Co. in London and established branches in Sydney, Australia, and New York City in 1873.
Cottier introduced receptive audiences around the world, including New York, to the paintings of contemporary French and Hague School artists and maintained his Scottish connections by loaning large numbers of paintings to the international exhibitions held in Edinburgh in 1886 and Glasgow in 1888. The major sale of his collection, following his death in 1891, was held in London, New York, and Paris and attracted the New York collector Henry Clay Frick among others. In 1876 Van Gogh visited Cottier’s showrooms in London, and in 1883 he sent some drawings to his brother Theo noting:
I thought perhaps these drawings would be something for Cottier. I imagine they would look well placed in the panels of a large cabinet, over a mantelpiece, or in a wainscot - in short, framed in woodwork as they do in England, and elsewhere too. But you know how it is with Cottier, when there is a certain degree of style in a drawing he likes it well enough, but, alas, he generally pays little. Still, I believe he is one of those who would care for them; and besides, he could display the drawings favourably. (1)
In the 1880s Cottier collaborated with the stained glass artists Louis Comfort Tiffany and John La Farge. An important window made around 1877 for the main hall of the Newport, Rhode Island home of William Sherman, formerly attributed to La Farge, is now considered to be Cottier’s work.
Cottier’s transatlantic experiences may have crossed over into his Scottish commissions, such as the Baptism of Christ in Paisley Abbey, Renfreshire, which features an unusually bold exercise in depicting water reeds blowing in the wind that seems to anticipate the landscape glass Tiffany later developed in America. Cottier also played a role in the late-nineteenth century ties between progressive Scottish and American glass, a trend that later resulted in American-developed techniques, particularly the exploration of streaky and opalescent glass, which then influenced the glass produced by the Glasgow School in the 1890s. His firm survived in New York as picture dealers until 1915.
A description of an exhibition at the Cottier Gallery can be read in this New York Times article from March 1, 1877.
1. Kinchin, Juliet, Hilary Macartney, and David Robertson. Cottier's in Context: Daniel Cottier, William Leiper and Dowanhill Church, Glasgow (Edinburgh: Historic Scotland, 2011), 51.