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Looking Back: Township artist painted history

Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published April 16, 2018


Have you ever wondered about the painting that hangs on the back wall of the Local History Room at the Bloomfield Township Public Library?

It depicts a mode of transportation used by many westward-bound pioneers, and it’s similar to a massive artwork hanging on the third floor of the Detroit Public Library of a story-high triptych called “Man and Transportation.”

These two transportation-themed paintings are the work of one artist: John S. Coppin.

Coppin, an artist who lived in Bloomfield Township a century ago, painted several portraits of Michigan’s governors that hang in the Capitol in Lansing — including Bloomfield’s George Romney, 43rd governor of the state and father of Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.

Coppin renovated a 1920s-era barn on Echo Road to be his home and studio.     

For 40 years, he also painted the covers for Motor News, the magazine of AAA Michigan. Other works of his hang in museums across the country and internationally, including the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., and the National History Museum in Denmark.

— Michael Carmichael, Bloomfield Historical Society and editor of Legacy magazine

Want to learn more about “Man and Transportation”? Join the Bloomfield Historical Society for a discussion about the treasures at the Detroit Public Library, which has been dubbed “Detroit’s other great art museum” by author and DPL tour guide Barbara Madgy Cohn.

The program will take place 1-4:40 p.m Sunday, April 29, at the Bloomfield Township Public Library. There is no cost to attend. For more information, visit

The Bloomfield Township Public Library is located at 1099 Lone Pine Road in Bloomfield Township.