Samuel Colman was born in Portland, Maine. He studied with Asher B. Durand (1796–1886) in New York and started exhibiting Hudson River School style landscapes at the National Academy of Design in New York in 1851. Colman went to Europe in 1860 and was particularly impressed with Spain. He returned to New York, traveled West in 1870, and made additional trips to Europe and North Africa. He lived in Newport, Rhode Island, for some years, but in 1876 moved back to New York, where he remained for the rest of his life, elaborating on his multitude of European sketches, and making excursions to paint in New England, California, and Mexico.
Colman was a member of the National Academy of Design, the Society of American Artists, the American Water Color Society, and the New York Etching Club. He exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum from 1855 to 1869, the Boston Art Club from 1873 to 1886, the Brooklyn Art Association from 1861 to 1885, and the National Academy of Design from 1851 to 1896, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia from 1863 to 1879.
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