Exhibited in 1865
Oil on canvas, 66.1 x 101.7 cm
Manchester Art Gallery
George Vicat Cole was an English painter. Vicat Cole was born at Portsmouth on 17 April 1833, eldest of five children of Eliza Vicat (of an old French Huguenot family, she will die in 1883) and the landscape painter George Cole (1810–1883). Initially exhibiting as ‘George Cole, junior’, from the mid-1850s he adopted his mother’s French Huguenot maiden name to distinguish his name from that of his father.
As a child, George Vicat was taught by his father and accompanied the older painter on journeys round country houses, where they would paint portraits of the owners, their horses, and dogs. He also made copies of prints after works of Turner and David Cox. Father and son took sketching tours together, in England, Wales, and also in Moselle, France.
Harvest time near Holmbury Hill, Surrey
Watercolour on paper (1865)
heightened with white and gum arabic
49.5 x 72.4 cm
George Vicat Cole followed in his success as in his pictorial practice his father’s lead. His earliest work was shown at the Society of British Artists in 1852, shortly before his nineteenth birthday. The young painter aged only nineteen already exhibited at the British Institution, and was first represented at the Royal Academy in 1853. However Vicat Cole quarrelled with his father in 1855 and the two parted company, with the younger George moving to Camden Town in north London. His election as an associate of the British Institution will take place in 1870, and he will become an Academician ten years later.
Vicat Cole was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, a group of artists only a few years older than he was, who advocated outdoor painting, using brilliant colour with a minimum of shadow and close observation of every minute detail, and believed in the concept of imitation of nature as central to the purpose of art.
At Arundel, Sussex
Oil on canvas (1887)
82.55 × 132.24 cm
Milwaukee Art Museum, Layton Art Collection
The wide popularity of George Vicat Cole’s work was due partly to the simplicity of his technical method, and partly to his habitual choice of attractive material. Most of his subjects were found in the counties of Surrey and Sussex, and along the banks of the Thames. In the nineteenth century, paintings that presented idealized, quaint images of the countryside were popular in England and America because they offered a welcomed contrast to the dirty, crowded urban reality of modern life.
George Vicat Cole was the father of the painter Rex Vicat Cole. One of his three daughters, Mary Blanche Cole (1858–1945), also an artist, married the painter Alexander Louis Paul (1855–1927). George Vicat Cole died in London on 6 April 1893.