A 2nd Cousin is a bit more of a distant relative than I usually feature, but the Hudson River School is one of my favorite genres and I wanted a page to highlight a few of his paintings.
Samuel Colman was one of the leading artists of the Hudson River School’s second generation, creating luminous landscapes of near and distant lands.
Samuel Colman (wiki) was born 4 Mar 1832 in Portland, Maine. Although our Coleman ancestors spelled their name with an “e,” his family spelled the name “Colman. His parents were Samuel Colman (1799-1865) and Tamelia “Pamela” Chandler (1799 – 1865). His grandparents were Dr. Samuel Colman (1759 – 1810) and Susan Atkins (1762-1827). His great grandparents were our ancestors Deacon Benjamin COLEMAN (1720 – 1797) and Ann BROWN (1724- 1776). He married 1863 Newport, Rhode Island to Ann Lawrence Dunham (b. 6 Nov 1832 in Manhattan, New York City). Samuel died 26 Mar 1920 in Portland, Cumberland, Maine.
Samuel’s second cousin (also Benjamin’s great grandson) was our ancestor Dudley COLEMAN (1805 – 1865)
Samuel’s father moved his family from Portland, Maine to Greenwich Village, New York City and opened a fine-arts bookstore on Broadway, attracting a literate clientele that may have influenced his son Samuel’s artistic development. At the age of eighteen, Colman trained under Asher B. Durand; he began exhibiting at the National Academy of Design that same year.
In the 1850 census, Samuel Colman Sr. (1799 – 1865) was a Book Dealer in Ward 15 Western half, New York City. His son Samuel Jr. age 18 was already listed as an Artist.
Samuel went abroad in 1860, studying in Paris and Spain ; was made a member of the National Academy in 1864 ; president of the American Water Color Society in 1866 : resigned in 1872 and went abroad spending some years in the principal cities of Europe.
He is believed to have studied briefly under the Hudson River school painter Asher Durand, and he exhibited his first work at the National Academy of Design in 1850. By 1854 he had opened his own New York City studio. The following year he was elected an associate member of the National Academy, with full membership bestowed in 1862.
Colman spent the summer of 1856 in Jackson, NH, sharing a studio with his brother-in-law, Aaron Draper Shattuck. The Crayon of that year noted: “Mr. Colman has made wide advances on all his previous studies … He has a study of Mote [sic] Mountain and the Ledges at North Conway, with a wheat-field in the foreground.”
In addition to his exhibits at the National Academy of Design, he was also a frequent exhibitor at the Boston Athenaeum and the Brooklyn Art Association.
Colman began painting in the pastoral mode of Durand, before a trip abroad in the 1860s unlocked a more instinctive feeling for natural scenery. He soon became one of the most widely-traveled painters of the period, capturing the beauty of the American West, British Columbia, the Gulf of Mexico, Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland, Egypt, Morocco, and Japan. Shifting between oil painting, watercolors, and etchings, Colman developed a fluid, graceful style—emphasizing nature’s quiet harmony over its epic scope.
In 1866 he helped found the American Society of Painters in Water Colors and was its first president. He became interested in etching in 1867 and, in 1877, at the founding of the New York Etching Club, exhibited a number of landscape etchings.
His landscape paintings in the 1850s and 1860s were influenced by the Hudson River school, an example being Meadows and Wildflowers at Conway (1856) now in the collection of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College. He was also able to paint in a romantic style, which had become more fashionable after the Civil War.
In 1867, Henry Tuckerman wrote of Colman, “to the eye of refined taste, to the quite lover of nature, there is a peculiar charm in Colman’s style which, sooner or later, will be greatly appreciated.” Implicit in Tuckerman’s statement is his observation of a strong individualism in Colman’s style.
Colman was an inveterate traveler, and many of his works depict scenes from foreign cities and ports. He made his first trip abroad to France and Spain in 1860-1861, and returned for a more extensive four-year European tour in the early 1870s in which he spent much time in Mediterranean locales.
He visited Spain and Morocco and painted scenes in a combination of pastel and gauche. Colman often depicted the architectural features he encountered on his travels: cityscapes, castles, bridges, arches, and aqueducts feature prominently in his paintings of foreign scenes.
In 1870 and again in the 1880’s he journeyed to the western United States, painting western landscapes comparable in scope and style to those of Thomas Moran.
In the aftermath of the Civil War, watercolor painting became more popular. In 1866, Colman was one of the founders of the American Watercolor Society, and he became its first president from 1867 to 1871. Colman also became skilled at the medium of etching. He was an early member of the New York Etching Club, and published popular etchings depicting European scenes.
Colman’s artistic activities became even more diverse late in life. By the 1880s he worked extensively as an interior designer, collaborating with his friend Louis Comfort Tiffany on the design of Samuel Clemens‘ Hartford home, and later on the Fifth Avenue home of Henry and Louisine Havemeyer. He also became a major collector of decorative Asian objects, and wrote two books on geometry and art: “Nature’s Harmonic Unity a treatise on its relation to proportional form“1912 and “Proportional Form: Further Studies in the Science of Beauty” 1920
For a time he was a member of the Century Association but resigned in 1884. Colman’s paintings are represented by the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Union League Club, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Portland Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection in Madrid.