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 Joseph Foxcroft Cole  (1837 - 1892)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts/California/Maine      Known for: landscape, animal, structure

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Ad Code: 3
Joseph Foxcroft Cole
from Auction House Records.
Souvenir D'Italie: A Landsca
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Landscape painter Joseph Foxcroft Cole was born in Jay, Maine in 1837, but grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. He went to France in 1860, alternating, for several years, study in winter at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, and summer with the popular painter of Normandy landscapes, Emile Lambinet. Cole returned to Boston, but yet again in 1865 went back to Paris for further study, working with Charles Jacque. Cole had been influenced by painter William Morris Hunt in his decision to return to Paris.

Hunt, a great believer in the Barbizon School of French painters and the necessity of studying their work, techniques and philosophy, had helped Cole financially in Boston, buying paintings and spreading the word to others who also bought from the young artist. Cole did meet in Paris, with the help of Jacque, such famous Barbizon artists as Corot, Daubigny, Diaz and Troyon.

Cole often painted peaceful, pastoral works of sheep and cows grazing in fields, exhibiting frequently in America, as well as abroad in the Paris Salon and London's Royal Academy. His late work reflected the influence of Impressionism.

Cole moved to a house built on Mystic Lake in Winchester, Massachusetts in 1877, where he passed the rest of his life. He painted atmospheric fields and lake scenes in Providence, Rhode Island and around his home, as well as other locations in New England. He did occasionally travel to the West Coast and Europe.

An interesting event in his youth, was Cole's association with Winslow Homer when both happened to work as apprentices in a printing studio.

Cole's work may be found in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Walker Art Museum, Bowdoin, Maine. The artist died in 1892.

Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art

Joseph Foxcroft Cole, painter was born in Jay, Maine, on November 9th, 1837. Cole began his career as a draftsman in the Boston lithographic firm of John Bufford, where he and fellow employee Winslow Homer became friends. Before Cole went to Paris, in 1860, Cole was familiar with French painting through his friend William Morris Hunt and through the Barbizon pictures exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum during the 1850s.

Once in Paris, Cole came under the influence of Emile-Charles Lambinet, a landscapist that specialized in loosely painted rural subjects. He also studied the great European collections and copied a number of the seventeenth-century Dutch pictures in the Louvre. Cole returned to Boston in 1864 and established a studio in the Mercantile Library Building. He again embarked on a second trip to Paris, in 1865, his teacher on that ocasion was Charles-Emile Jacque, an artist renowned for his farmyard scenes. In Jacque's studio, Cole had frequent contacts with various well-known Barbizon painters such as Corot, Charles-Francois Daubigny, and Constant Troyon.

During the next twelve years Cole divided his time between Boston and Paris. By 1877 he had settled in Winchester, Massachusetts, where he remained for the rest of his life except for trips to California, France, and the Netherlands. Cole was considered one of the leading landscape painters in the Boston area during the second half of the nineteenth century; he was also an important arbiter of taste, instrumental in popularizing the French Barbizon style in America.

Among the other subjects Cole painted were mountains, streets, rivers, farms, missions, still lifes, flowers and animals. One fellow artist observed, "Through all his wanderings his love for the rugged hillsides of New England never grew cold. In this work, the reflection of the delicate pinks of the sky in the waters of the river make the two elements appear as one" Cole often combined a New England locale with the style he derived from French Barbizon school of art with great success.

An art critic by the name of Henry James said this about Cole's work in an 1872 exhibition at Doll and Richards in Boston, "They are indeed themselves foreign works; and if we had not been otherwise informed, we should have taken them all for the produce of a French studio." The luminous color palette Cole employed indicated his keen awareness of French Impressionism. As early as the 1870s his palette began to lighten and by the 1890s the "Influence of Claude Monet and the Impressionists was distinctly evident. One of Cole's most renowned pictures, The Aberjona River has been frequently exhibited and reproduced. When it was shown in 1883 at the American Art Galleries, the Art Amateur described it as "a well and solidly painted work throughout."

From 1863 until his death Cole exhibited intermittently at the National Academy of Design. He also exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1866, 1867; the Society of American Artists, from 1873 to 1875, where he was also made a member in 1880; at the Royal Academy, London, 1876 and 1877; the St. Botolph Club in Boston, 1893; the American Art Galleries and others. There was a memorial exhibition of Cole's work in 1893 at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Joseph Foxcroft Cole passed away on May 2nd 1892 in Winchester, Maine.

Blake Benton Fine Art

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Jay, ME on Nov. 9, 1837. Cole settled in Boston in 1877. Due to his wife's ill health, he made many trips to southern California during the 1880s. While in California he painted several landscapes of the Sierra Nevada and the missions. He later spent several years in Europe. Cole died in Boston on May 2, 1892. Exh: SFAA, 1873; Boston Museum, 1893; PPIE, 1915. In: NMAA; Boston Museum; Bowdoin College Museum; Detroit Institute of Arts; Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley (Mission San Juan Capistrano).
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers (Fielding, Mantle); Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs, et Graveurs (Bénézit, E); Artists of the American West (Doris Dawdy); New York Historical Society's Dictionary of Artists in America (Groce, George C. and David H. Wallace); American Art Journal, Spring 1981.
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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Joseph Cole is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915

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