Enrico Coleman

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Enrico Coleman
Enrico Coleman portrait.jpg
Born 21 June 1846
Died 14 February 1911
Nationality British
Known for landscape, watercolour, orchids, Campagna Romana, Agro Pontino
Movement In arte libertas
XXV della Campagna Romana
Timor panico, now in the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes of Buenos Aires
Horses drinking from a stone trough
Portrait photograph of Coleman from "In Memoriam: Enrico Coleman", Emporium 33 (196):306–313, April 1911

Enrico Coleman (21 June 1846 – 14 February 1911) was an Italian painter of British nationality. He was the son of the English painter Charles Coleman and brother of the less well-known Italian painter Francesco Coleman. He was known for his paintings, in oils and in watercolours, of the landscapes of the Campagna Romana and Agro Pontino, and as a collector, grower and painter of orchids. Because of his supposedly Oriental air, he was known to his friends as "Il Birmano", the Burmese.[1]


Enrico Coleman was born in Rome on 21 June 1846.[2][note 1] He was the fourth child of the English painter Charles Coleman, who had come to Rome in 1831 and settled there permanently in 1835, and of Fortunata Segadori (or Segatori), a famous model from Subiaco, whom he had married in 1836.

Initially taught by his father,[3] Coleman either did[4] or did not[5] study at the Academy of San Luca in Rome. Following the mocking reception of Una mandria di bufali nelle paludi pontine, a naturalistic painting of a herd of buffaloes in the Pontine marshes, at the International Artist's Club in 1872,[2][6] he reportedly began to paint genre subjects in the manner of the then fashionable Mariano Fortuny, although no works showing the influence of the Spanish painter are known.[7] At the instigation of Nino Costa he soon returned to the depiction of the people, animals and landscapes of the Campagna Romana and the Agro Pontino.[8][note 2] An album of watercolours from this youthful period (1871–1875) was recently rediscovered and was shown in Rome in 2004.[9]

Coleman was lover of orchids, which he painted, collected and cultivated. A famous album of 88 orchid paintings, either in watercolour[2][7] or in gouache,[10] painted in the 1890s[7] and entitled Orchidea Birmana[11] was sold to an Englishman;[2] it was "rediscovered" in the 1980s and published in facsimile.[10] An 1894 watercolour of orchids is in the Galleria Comunale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Rome.[11] Coleman had a remarkable collection of indigenous orchids, which he cultivated himself in special boxes[5] at his house at 6 via Valenziana.[12] He successfully hybridised Orchis provincialis var. pauciflora and Orchis mascula var. rosea; the botanist Fabrizio Cortesi named the hybrid Orchis x colemanii Cortesi in his honour.[2]

In 1875, Coleman was among the founding members of the Società degli Acquarellisti, the Roman society of watercolourists; he participated in the society's first exhibition in 1876, and continued to exhibit with them until 1907.[5] In 1878 he was elected an honorary member of the Société Royale Belge des Aquarellistes, the Belgian royal society of watercolourists, with which he participated in the Salon de Paris in 1879.[7] From then on he began to exhibit regularly. He sent paintings to the 4th Esposizione Nazionale di Belle Arti, or national fine art show, of Turin in 1880, and to that of Milan in the following year;[2] he showed works in London in 1882[5] and in Rome in 1883.[2]

In 1885, Coleman was among the founding members of the group In Arte Libertas, of which Nino Costa was the leading force and the other founding members were Vincenzo Cabianca, Onorato Carlandi, Giuseppe Cellini, Alessandro Castelli, Cesare Formilli, Giuseppe Raggio, Alfredo Ricci, Mario de Maria and Gaetano Vannicola.[8][note 3] Coleman had six paintings in the first exhibition of the group, which took place from 10–28 February 1886, in the studio of an amateur painter named Giorgi, at 72 via S. Nicola da Tolentino.[13] He participated in some measure in all of the subsequent annual exhibitions.[2] From 1895 to 1899 the group exhibited collectively at the Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte della Città di Venezia, which would later become the Biennale di Venezia; Coleman continued to exhibit in every edition until the ninth in 1910.[2]

Shortly after the death of Costa in 1903, In Arte Libertas was transformed into a new society, the "XXV della Campagna Romana". The XXV was born in the trattoria "Il Pozzo di San Patrizio" on the via Nomentana, on the evening of 24 May 1904.[14] Coleman was elected "capocetta", or president, for life. The other members included Giuseppe and Ettore Ferrari, Onorato Carlandi, Giulio Aristide Sartorio, members of the earlier group, who were joined by Cesare Pascarella, Arturo Noci, Lorenzo Cecconi, Vittorio Grassi, Carlo Montani, Amedeo and Virgilio Simonetti, and others.[2]

Enrico Coleman never married.[12] Although he kept his British nationality throughout his life, he never visited Britain. The only large city he ever saw was Turin. According to Diego Angeli, apart from that one journey, he never went further north than Monte Soratte, nor further south than Terracina.[15] As well as painting and orchids, he loved shooting and mountain-climbing. He was among the early members of the Club Alpino Italiano, which he joined in 1881, and of which he was made an honorary member for life in 1906.[5] The club published his panorama of the Gran Sasso d'Italia in 1884,[16] and awarded him a gold medal at the Esposizione Alpina, or mountaineering exhibition, in Bologna in 1888.[2]

He died in Rome of pleurisy in the night of either 14 February 1911[5][7] or 4 February 1911,[2] and is buried in the non-Catholic cemetery of Testaccio; the date on his gravestone is calculated from the foundation of Rome.[2] Later the same year, he was the only artist to have a whole room dedicated to him at the Esposizione internazionale d'arte in Rome,[17][18] in which forty-nine of his works, both oils and watercolours, were hung by a group of his friends.[2][19] In the exhibitions of Castel Sant'Angelo for the 50th anniversary of the unification of Italy his watercolours of mountain landscapes formed part of the exhibit of the Club Alpino Italiano.[20] On the anniversary of Coleman's death, thirty of his works from the collection of his sister Giorgina were shown at the Studio Jandolo at 52a, via Margutta, on the initiative of Onorato Carlandi, Diego Angeli, Arturo Lancellotti and Jandolo himself.[5]

Published works[edit]


  1. ^ I Pittori Coleman has 25 June. See LCCN.
  2. ^ According to Agresti, Costa said : "Dear Enrico, farewell! If you have any drawings by your father put away in your portfolios, unfold them religiously, frame them, kneel before them, and repent of ever having followed bad art"
  3. ^ Agresti gives the first article of their manifesto, in a version dating from 1890, as: "The artists Vincenzo Cabianca, Onorato Carlandi, Giuseppe Cellini, Enrico Coleman, Nino Costa, Alessandro Castelli, Cesare Formilli, Alessandro Morani, Norberto Pazzini, Raimondo Pontecorvo, Giuseppe Raggio, Alessandro Ricci, Lemmo Rossi-Scotti, Luigi Serra, and Gaetano Vannicola, feel that they love art freely, each in his own way, and they unite to show to the public by means of annual exhibitions their researches in art."


  1. ^ Muñoz, Antonio (ed.) (1938) L'Urbe: rivista romana Anno III – 1938:XVI, XVII Roma: Fratelli Palombi p.22
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Tempesta, C[laudia] ([n.d.]) 'COLEMAN, Enrico (Henry)' in Dizionario Biografico - Treccani (in Italian) Accessed September 2011.
  3. ^ Olson, Roberta J.M. (1976) Italian 19th century drawings & watercolors: an album, Camuccini & Minardi to Mancini & Balla New York: Shepherd Gallery cat. no. 65
  4. ^ Sisi, Carlo (2003) La pittura di paesaggio in Italia: L'Ottocento (in Italian) Milano: Electa ISBN 978-88-435-5746-2 p. 151 "Landscape painting in Italy: the nineteenth century"
  5. ^ a b c d e f g De Rosa, Pier Andrea, Paolo Emilio Trastulli (2001) La campagna romana da Hackert a Balla Rome: Studio Ottocento for Museo del Corso ISBN 978-88-8016-478-4 p. 245–8 (in Italian) "The Campagna Romana from Hackert to Balla"
  6. ^ Quintieri, Riccardo (1901) La Rassegna internazionale della letteratura e dell'arte contemporanea, volumes 6–7 (in Italian) Firenze: Libreria Fratelli Bocca pp.14–16 "The international review of literature and contemporary art"
  7. ^ a b c d e Castelnuovo, Enrico (ed.) (1991) La Pittura in Italia: L'Ottocento revised edition, Milano: Electa, p.747 (in Italian) "Painting in Italy: the nineteenth century"
  8. ^ a b Agresti, Olivia Rossetti (1907) Giovanni Costa, his life, work, and times 2nd edition London: Gay & Bird, pp. 195–196 (1st: London: Grant Richards 1904)
  9. ^ De Rosa, Pier Andrea; Paolo Emilio Trastulli (2004) Acquerelli giovanili di Enrico Coleman (1871-1875): l'album ritrovato Roma: Alessio Ponti (in Italian) "Youthful watercolours of Enrico Coleman (1871–1875): the lost album"
  10. ^ a b De Rosa, Pier Andrea; Paolo Emilio Trastulli (1988) Orchidee romane: l'eccezionale Album di Enrico Coleman con le ottantotto tempere della sua raccolta di orchidee fiorite a Roma e nella Campagna romana: inedita ed unica testimonianza di luoghi non ancora contaminati dall'inquinamento ambientale Roma: Newton Compton (in Italian) "Roman orchids, the exceptional album of Enrico Coleman with the 88 gouaches of his collection of orchids flowering in Rome and in the Roman Campagna, unpublished and unique testimonial of places not yet contaminated by environmental pollution"
  11. ^ a b Huemer, Christina (2005) Spellbound by Rome : the Anglo-American community in Rome : 1890 - 1914 and the foundation of the Keats-Shelley House; American Academy in Rome, Keats-Shelley Memorial House, Church of St. Paul's Within-the-Walls, Museo Hendrik Christian Andersen, 16 February - 16 April 2005 Rome: Palombi & Partner ISBN 978-88-7621-492-9 p.134
  12. ^ a b Mammucari, Renato (2001) Acquerellisti romani: suggestioni neoclassiche, esotismo orientale, decadentismo bizantino, realismo borghese Città di Castello (Perugia): Edimond p.226 (in Italian) "Roman watercolourists: neoclassical influences, Eastern exoticism, Byzantine decadence, bourgeois realism".
  13. ^ Pieri, Giuliana (2007) The influence of pre-Raphaelitism on fin de siècle Italy London: Maney Publications for the Modern Humanities Research Association ISBN 978-1-904350-44-6 pp. 87–8
  14. ^ Vigezzi, Silvio (1932) La scultura italiana dell'ottocento Milano: Ceschina p.99 (in Italian) "Italian sculpture of the nineteenth century".
  15. ^ Angeli, Diego (1930) Le Cronache del Caffè Greco Milano: Fratelli Treves
  16. ^ Coleman, Enrico (1884) 'Panorama invernale del Gran Sasso d'Italia' (Chromolithograph) in Bollettino del Club Alpino Italiano Torino: Fratelli Doyen XVII:50 tavola VII
  17. ^ Mammucari, Renato (2002) Campagna romana: carte geografiche, piante prospettiche, vedute panoramiche, costumi pittoreschi (Collana Imago) Città di Castello (Perugia): Edimond pp.45–58
  18. ^ Murdaca, Roberta Guida breve delle sale: Primo Novecento (in Italian) Soprintendenza alla Galleria nazionale d'arte moderna e contemporanea 2010. Accessed September 2011. "Brief guide to the rooms: Early 20th century".
  19. ^ Pica, Vittorio (1911) 'In memoriam – Enrico Coleman – Ugo Valeri' in Emporium XXXIII:136, April 1911 Bergamo: Istituto italiano d'arti grafiche p.306ff (in Italian)
  20. ^ 'La sezione di Roma del CAI alla mostra di Castel Sant' Angelo' in Rivista del Club alpino italiano Torino: Redazione Presso la sede centrale del C.A.I. XXX p.194 (in Italian) "The Rome section of the CAI at the exhibition of Castel Sant' Angelo"

Further reading[edit]

  • [s.n.] (1911) 'Necrologio – Enrico Coleman' (obituary) in Annali di botanica IX:2 Consiglio nazionale delle ricerche; Università degli studi di Roma La Sapienza, Dipartimento di biologia vegetale. Rome: Tipografia E. Voghera
  • [s.n.] (1911) Catalogo della mostra di belle arti, esposizione internazionale di Roma Bergamo: Istituto Italiano d'Arti Grafiche p. 20
  • Francesco Sapori ([1919]) Enrico Coleman (Maestri dell'arte no. 15) Torino: E. Celanza
  • Augusto Jandolo (1938) Le memorie di un antiquario Milano: Ceschina p. 335
  • Livio Iannattoni (1945) Roma e gli Inglesi Roma: Atlantica
  •  ———  (1950) 'I pittori Coleman' in L'Urbe XIII:4 p. 27ff
  • Francesco Sapori (1954) I maestri di Terracina Roma p. 33
  • Valentino Martinelli (1963) Paesisti romani dell'Ottocento Roma: Fratelli Palombi p. 59
  • Maurizio Marini, Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco (1977) Il gran libro della natura: Ettore Ferrari e la pittura di paesaggio a Roma tra 800 e 900 Roma: Edizioni Aventino p. 99
  • Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco, Maurizio Marini (1978) Mostra di costume di Roma 800 Roma: De Luca p. 14
  • Anna Gramiccia (1978) 'Enrico Coleman' in Da Canova a De Carolis Roma p. 81
  • Massimiliano Marazzi (1979) 'La Campagna romana in un dipinto di Enrico Coleman' in Lazio ieri e oggi January 1979
  • Egidio Maria Eleuteri ([19--]) Lo studio dal vero nella Campagna Romana di Eurico Coleman: con 18 disegni in bianco e nero [s.l.]: All'Insegna del settimo sigillo
  • Pier Andrea De Rosa, Paolo Emilio Trastulli (1988) I pittori Coleman Roma: Studio Ottocento
  • Pier Andrea De Rosa (1997) Enrico Coleman: 1846-1911: pittura & natura: Palazzo Campello, Roma, 13 maggio-8 giugno 1997 Roma: Studio Ottocento

External links[edit]

  • Full text, in Italian, of the obituary of Coleman by Vittorio Pica in Emporium, April 1911.