Alphaeus Philemon Cole

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Alphaeus Philemon Cole
Альфиус Филеймон Коул. 1920 год..jpg
Alphaeus Philemon Cole in 1920
Born(1876-07-12)July 12, 1876
Died(1988-11-25)November 25, 1988
(aged 112 years, 136 days)
Known for
  • Oldest living man
    (5 January 1987 - 25 November 1988)

Alphaeus Philemon Cole (July 12, 1876 – November 25, 1988) was an American artist, engraver and etcher. He was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, the son of noted engraver Timothy Cole.[1] At the time of his death, at age 112 years and 136 days, Alphaeus was the world's oldest verified living man and the oldest living person in the United States.


Cole studied art first under Isaac Craig, in Italy, then in Paris from 1892 to 1901 with Jean Paul Laurens and Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant at the Académie Julian,[2][3] and later at the École des Beaux-Arts.[1] In the mid-1890s, he began to produce many vibrant works, mostly various still lifes and portraits. His painting of Dante was exhibited in the 1900 Paris Salon,[2] and more artwork was displayed at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.

Cole moved to England and married sculptress Margaret Ward Walmsley in 1903.[2] He began to venture into the fields of wood/steel engraving and etching, but these works sold less than his portraits. He contributed several drawings to the Encyclopædia Britannica. They moved again, to the United States, in 1911.[2] In 1918, Cole became a member of the Salmagundi Club, the nation's oldest professional art club.[1] From 1924 to 1931, he taught portrait and still life classes at Cooper Union.[3] He was elected to the National Academy of Design in 1930.[1] He was the president of the New York Water Color Club from 1931 to 1941.[2] In the 1940s, Cole worked as a judge of paintings in Max Pochapin's Manhattan Hall of Art, a merchandising art gallery, which was a revolutionary idea at the time.[4] From 1952 to 1953, he was president of Allied Artists of America.[5] His first wife died in 1961, and Cole married Anita Rio, a singer, and the widow of painter Eugene Higgins, in 1962.[2] She died in 1973.[1]

Cole actively painted and exhibited up to the age of 103.[3] He died at New York's Chelsea Hotel, where he had lived for 35 years.[6] Cole's work is in the permanent collections of London's National Portrait Gallery and the Brooklyn Museum,[1] and his papers are stored at the Smithsonian Institution.[2]

Although not recognized at the time, Cole is now verified as having been the oldest living man from the death of another notable supercentenarian, 111-year-old Norwegian skier Herman Smith-Johannsen, on January 5, 1987 to his own death, and was also the oldest living person in the United States for eight months after the death of 112-year-old Elzona Maxey on April 25, 1988, although none of them were recognized as the oldest living American person as Lucy Hannah, who died in March 1993 at the claimed age of 117, was believed to be older, but whose longevity claim has since been debunked.

As of August 11, 2013, prices for Cole's works now reach $5,000 or more. He died in New York City, at the age of 112 years, 136 days.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Alphaeus Cole, a Portraitist, 112, obituary by Michel Kimmelman, November 26, 1988, The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Archives of American Art - Alphaeus P. Cole papers, 1885-1988 (collection summary)", Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
  3. ^ a b c "Alphaeus Philemon Cole" Archived 2008-02-15 at the Wayback Machine, Salmagundi Club. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
  4. ^ "Cut-Rate Art", Time' magazine, September 6, 1943. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
  5. ^ "Presidents Of Allied Artists Of America, Inc." Archived 2007-11-22 at the Wayback Machine, Allied Artists of America. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
  6. ^ Reid, Graham (2 April 2005). "Every room can tell you a good story". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 September 2011.