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 Samuel Colman  (1832 - 1920)

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Lived/Active: New York/California/Maine      Known for: landscape, animal, genre and botanical painting

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Samuel Colman
from Auction House Records.
Becalmed in the Highlands
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A significant landscape painter of the second generation of Hudson River School painters, Samuel Colman traveled widely and eventually went far beyond the Hudson River for subject matter.  He created many large canvases of European, United States, Canadian, and Mexican subjects, especially scenes along the Hudson River and the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  He also traveled to North Africa in the 1870s, and one of his most impressive works, The Moorish Mosque of Sidi Halou, Tlemcen, Algeria (1875) is in the Edna Barnes Solomon collection of the New York Public Library.

He was a full member of the National Academy of Design and lived long enough to see attention to his work eclipsed by that given to modernism.  He was a key person in establishing watercolor as an independent medium that was good for more than just sketching.

Colman was born and raised in Portland, Maine, and early moved to New York City, where his father, a publisher and fine-art books dealer, introduced him to many of the leading artists and writers of the time.  He studied with Asher B. Durand, a leader of the Hudson River School of painters, and by the time he was eighteen was exhibiting at the National Academy of Design and by age twenty-two was elected an Associate.

He served as one of the founders and first president of the American Society of Watercolor Painters, founded in 1866, and his watercolors were painted in a much tighter manner than his oils.

He and Thomas Moran are considered the two most important 19th-century painters to visit Arizona where Colman did panoramic views including the Grand Canyon (1882). They were some of the few Hudson River painters that ever went West. Colman first went to the West in 1871 and painted in Utah and Wyoming, and he also did numerous Oregon Trail depictions.  One of his most noted is Ships of the Plains, 1872, now in the Union League Club in New York.  In 1870, he painted Yosemite in Northern California, and in 1887-1888, visited Pasadena as a tourist.

Although he did not consider himself a Luminist in style, he manipulated light to create a glittery, silvery atmosphere, and others have called him a Luminist.  Unlike his contemporary, Albert Bierstadt, he was not trying to create a sense of drama or of the grandiose; his works were sensitive and suggested quiet beauty.

He wrote two books on art: Nature's Harmonic Unity and Proportional Form.  He was also an etcher, art collector, an authority on oriental art and porcelains, and an interior designer, working with John La Farge and Louis Tiffany.

Samuel Colman died in New York City.

David Michael Zellman, 300 Hundred Years of American Art
Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Works located at:
David Winton Bell Gallery:
1. Etching, "Kew" (1891)
2. Etching, "A Cloudy Day in Venice"
3. Etching, "The Tower of the Comares"
4. Etching, "Durham"

Newport Art Museum:
1. Oil on canvas, "Hollyhocks" (1871) (acc.# 1939.002.001)
2. Oil on canvas, "Harbor Scene" (1873) (acc.# 1947.001.001)

Rhode Island School of Design:
1. Oil painting on canvas, "Dutch Boats at Low Tide" (ca. 1876) (acc.# 13.810X)
2. Etching, "The Boompjes--Rotterdam" (mid 19th-early 20th c.) (acc.# 1988.113.3)
3. Etching, "Tower de Montalban--Amsterdam" (mid 19th-early 20th c.) (acc.# 1988.113.4)
4. Painting, "On the Saco River, White Mountains" (acc.# D13.804)

Unveiled: a directory and guide to 19th century born artists active in Rhode Island, and where to find their work in publicly accessible Rhode Island collections
by Elinor L. Nacheman

Biography from Art Cellar Exchange:

Samuel Colman (1832-1920) was an important painter of the second generation of Hudson River School artists. He was born in Portland, Maine in 1832 but was raised in New York City.  His father, as an art book dealer and publisher, purposefully exposed his son to a world of fine art prints and a community of artists. Among Samuel's first teachers was Hudson River School painter Asher B. Durand. Under this gifted artist's guidance, Samuel made considerable strides in his painting and by the age of 18 exhibited his first work, entitled Morning, at the National Academy of Design.  In 1860, Colman became an associate professor at the Academy and later that year, embarked on the first of many trips to Europe.  He traveled to Switzerland, Italy, and France, but unlike many of his contemporaries, he ventured to Spain and Morocco as well.

Upon returning to the United States, Colman continued to follow his adventurous spirit away from the beaten path. While most of his colleagues stayed close to home, only he and Thomas Moran journeyed to the rugged landscapes of the American West, painting the breathtaking regions of Utah, Wyoming, the Oregon Trail and the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  Typically, his paintings depict a specific locale, offering microscopic views of hilltops and coastlines, and featuring one major natural or man-made form.  As his style matured, it developed a subtle luminescent quality, manipulating light to create a sparkling silvery atmosphere.  His goal was not to create a dramatic scene, but a delicate reflection of nature's awe-inspiring beauty.

Demonstrating a unique balance of the subtle luminescence of the Barbizon school and the lucid style of the fully-evolved Hudson River School, Colman finds his own place in the history of landscape painting.  With works held widely in public and private collections, his paintings are a reflection of the "quiet beauty" he found in nature. " The style of Mr. Colman, both in oil and watercolors has been very effective; he has painted some very strong effects of light and shade, and his coloring has a brilliance that is so harmonious as to influence one like a strain of music."--SGW Benjamin

Biography from Thomas Nygard Gallery:
SAMUEL COLMAN (or COLEMAN), N.A. (1832-1920)

A member of the second generation of Hudson River School painters, Samuel Colman, a native of Maine, was raised in New York City.  His father owned a successful publishing business, where the young Colman was exposed to fine art prints.  In New York he studied briefly with Asher B. Durand, and by 1860 had embarked on the first of several trips to Europe.  He visited France, Italy, and Switzerland, and was one of the first American artists to paint in the more remote locales of Spain and Morocco.

Upon his return he had several exhibitions of the painting done abroad.  He became a full member of the National Academy of Design in 1862.

Colman was not so much intent on recording a specific locale as in offering the viewer a respite from the cares of daily life.  As Colman's teacher Durand noted in regard to one of his own similarly pastoral landscapes:

"To the rich merchant and capitalist...released from the world-struggle, so far as to allow a little time to rest and reflect in, landscape art especially appeals.... in spite of the discordant clamor and conflict of the crowded city, the true landscape becomes a thing of more than outward beauty....It becomes companionable, holding silent converse with the feelings... touching a chord that vibrates to the inmost recesses of the heart."

His works are widely held by public and private collections.

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Samuel Colman is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Painters of Grand Canyon
Hudson River School Painters
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915

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