JOSEPH FOXCROFT COLEAmerican, 1837-1892
Landscape painter Joseph Foxcroft Cole was born in Jay, Maine in 1837, but grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. After a public-school education in Boston, Cole became an apprentice with Winslow Homer (1836-1910) at the J.G. Bufford’s lithography shop.
He went to France in 1860, alternating, for several years, study in winter at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, and summer with the popular painter of Normandy landscapes, Emile Charles Lambinet (1815-1877). Cole returned to Boston briefly, setting up a studio there in late 1863 or early 1864.
Cole had been influenced by painter William Morris Hunt in his decision to return to Paris. Hunt, a great believer in the Barbizon School of French painters and the necessity of studying their techniques and philosophy had helped Cole financially in Boston, buying paintings and spreading the word to others who also bought from the young artist. With the support from Hunt, Cole had sold enough works to travel to Paris yet again in 1865 for further study, working with Charles Emile Jacque (1813-1894). Cole did meet in Paris, with the help of Jacque, such famous Barbizon artists as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875), Charles Francois Daubigny (1817-1878) and Constant Troyon (1810-1865).
In late 1870 Cole returned to Boston but went back to France two years later, staying for five years. During this period, he exhibited at the Salons of 1873, 1874, and 1875, and frequently at the London Royal Academy. Cole received a medal at the Centennial Exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia. He was back in Massachusetts in 1877, living in Winchester at Mystic Lakes, where, except for brief trips to California and Europe, he spent the rest of his life. He painted atmospheric fields and lake scenes in Providence, Rhode Island and around his home, as well as other locations in New England. He did occasionally travel to the West Coast and Europe before his death in 1892 in Winchester.
Cole’s work may be found in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Walker Art Museum, the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Boston Athenaeum Library, the Farnsworth Art Museum, the National Museum of American Art-Smithsonian, and The University of Michigan Museum of Art.