Artist Biography

Vincent Colyer

(1825 - 1888)

Table of Contents

    Born in New York, Vincent Colyer spent the majority of his life traveling the United States. In the 1840s, Colyer decided to dedicate his life to art and studied at the National Academy of Design under John R. Smith. The artist served in the medical corps during the United States Civil War, and was later appointed a U.S. Indian Commissioner. From the late 1860s to early 1870s, Colyer traveled extensively to the West and Alaksa, sketching the vast landscape. After returning to Connecticut ca. 1872, Colyer’s plentiful sketches served as studies for his future works, larger-scale paintings of Northwestern and Alaskan landscapes. A close friend of John Frederick Kensett, the two painters shared land on Contentment Island, off the coast of Connecticut. It was here that Kensett, in an attempt to save Colyer’s drowning wife, brought upon his own death; he passed one month later, due to complications from the incident. During his lifetime, Colyer exhibited at the National Academy of Design, the Brooklyn Academy of Art, the American Art Union, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and in the Pennsylvania Centennial exhibition. His works are in the permanent collections of the Maryland Historical Society, the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Gilcrease Museum.

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