|Charles Caryl Coleman (1840–1928, United States), A Shower of Ashes Upon Ottaviano, April 14, 1906. Pastel on blue-gray paper, 10 ½” x 8 7/16” (26.8 x 21.4 cm). © Brooklyn Museum of Art. (BMA-3164)|
My fascination with Charles Caryl Coleman, aside from his mastery of pastels, is the fact that he shared a viewpoint about art prevalent in the mid to late 1800s in both Europe and America. It was the idea about the “superiority”of the art of the Renaissance before Raphael (1483–1520, Italy). Some art historians call this taste “Pre-Raphaelite.” I call it an academic movement that perpetuated the western ideal of the “supremacy” of ancient Greek and Roman art that was so dominant in the 1800s.
Coleman was born in Buffalo, NY. Unlike his contemporaries of the Hudson River School, he was among those American artists who gravitated towards European schools. He would be the second generation of American artists to do so, the first including Benjamin West (1738–1820) and John Singleton Copley (1738–1815). He was not affected by the Impressionist tendencies of some Americans who studied in Europe, namely Childe Hassam (1859–1935). Coleman intially studied with the academic painter William Holbrook Beard (1824–1900) in New York.
|William H. Beard (1820–1900, United States), March of Silenus, c. 1862. Oil on canvas, 45” x 35” (114.3 x 88.9 cm). © Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. (AK-196)|
|Thomas Couture (1815-1879, France), Head of a Woman, 1876. Oil on canvas, 18 x 15” (45.7 x 38.1 cm). © Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. (AK-754)|
After serving in the Civil War (1860–1865), Coleman returned to Europe, eventually settling in Capri in 1880. He joined a community of ex-patriate American artists working in the classical/academic style.
|Charles Caryl Coleman, View of Vesuvius, Effect at 11:25 am, December 21, 1913. Pastel on paper, 24 3/16” x 18” (61.4 x 45.6 cm). © Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY. (BMA-1653)|
Correlation to Davis programs: Explorations in Art Grade 3: 5.27; Explorations in Art Grade 4: 4.22; Explorations in Art Grade 5: 4.19, 4.23; Explorations in Art Grade 6: 2.7; Exploring Painting: Chapter 8; Experience Painting: Chapter 3