Samuel Colman was born in Portland, Maine, and later moved with his family to New York City. His father, a publisher and seller of fine arts books, established a shop there that became a gathering place for artists.
Seville's busy harbor and Wyoming's majestic Green River Valley were among the very different landscapes portrayed by Colman during his long, successful career. Colman was a second-generation member of the Hudson River School, a group of artists who portrayed the lakes, streams, and mountains of New England, New York State, and the West between about 1825 and 1875. As a young man, he studied with Asher B. Durand, one of the first Hudson River School painters.
Colman established a reputation for his picturesque views of European landscapes, reflecting his journeys to France, Italy, Spain, and Morocco in 1860-1862 and 1871-1875. He began to travel to the American West in 1870. His panoramas of that region are regarded as important visual records of the nation's expansion in the nineteenth century. Colman, who worked in both oil and watercolor, was a founder and the first president of the American Watercolor Society.
[This is an excerpt from the interactive companion program to the videodisc American Art from the National Gallery of Art. Produced by the Department of Education Resources, this teaching resource is one of the Gallery's free-loan educational programs.]