On this day in 1833 George Vicat Cole, landscape painter, was born in Portsmouth to George Cole and Eliza Vicat.
He was the eldest of their five children. George junior adopted his mother’s French Huguenot maiden name to distinguish it from his father’s.
As a boy Cole was taught by his father, who was also a landscape painter, and accompanied him on journeys around country houses where they would paint portraits of the owners, their horses and dogs.
By the age of 20 two of his works were accepted for exhibition at the Royal Academy. His works were described as being ‘marked by the same general character of sunlight, peace and English air’.
George Cole senior was born in 1810 and was a self-taught artist. Some of his earliest studies were of animals in Wombwell’s travelling menagerie, which appeared regularly at Portsmouth’s Free Mart Fair.
Impressed by his work, Wombwell commissioned a large canvas nearly 22ft square depicting a tiger hunt in the jungle with elephants. It proved a great success.
Cole continued making show cloths to advertise the menagerie at fairs. Later he studied animal painting in Holland and gained awards for his landscape painting, though he never achieved the success enjoyed by his son – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.