Charles Caryl COLEMAN

Buffalo 1840 - Capri 1928


Born in New York State, Charles Caryl Coleman travelled to Europe in 1856 as a teenager. He spent three years studying in Paris, followed by two years in Florence, where he met his compatriot and longtime friend Elihu Vedder. In 1862 he returned to America and served in the Union army during the Civil War. Wounded in battle in 1863 and honourably discharged, he was back in Europe by 1866. After some time sketching with Vedder in Brittany and the Côte d’Azur, Coleman had settled in Rome by December 1866. He was to spend the remainder of his career in Italy, living and working mainly in Rome, but with several visits to Venice, and also making regular trips back to America. Among his important patrons was the notable Scottish art collector and philanthropist Louisa Baring, Lady Ashburton. In 1880 Coleman bought a villa on the island of Capri, where he settled permanently in 1885. As one scholar has noted, ‘He soon became one of the island’s most memorable residents, joining a community of expatriates from many countries that had been established in the 1820s. “Uncle Charlie”, as Coleman was known, transformed a portion of a convent guest-house into a virtual palace for art, crowding his Villa Narcissus with Roman, Moorish, Persian, and Renaissance antiquities and hundreds of his own landscapes. In this exotic setting he entertained students from the American School of Archaeology in Rome and acted as the leader of the circle of painters active on Capri.’