Samuel Colman was one of the leading artists of the Hudson River School’s second generation, creating luminous landscapes of near and distant lands. Born in Portland, Maine, and raised in New York City, Colman grew up in a family inclined toward the arts and surrounded by the leading cultural figures of the time. His father owned a bookshop on Broadway frequented by the Knickerbocker writers and the Hudson River School painters, which provided a heady environment for his artistic son. At the age of eighteen, Colman trained under Asher B. Durand; he began exhibiting at the National Academy of Design that same year.
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.
Colman was an integral member of the New York art world throughout the late-nineteenth century. He founded the American Society of Painters in Water Colors in 1866, serving as its first president, and established the New York Etching Club in 1877. He was also a member of the National Academy of Design and the Society of American Artists, an expert collector of Oriental art and porcelain, an interior designer who collaborated with Louis Comfort Tiffany and John LaFarge, and the author of two books on art: “Nature’s Harmonic Unity” and “Proportional Form.” Widely exhibited during his lifetime, Colman’s paintings are now featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 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.