Timothy Cole was a wood engraver working primarily in the New York City area. Cole worked for several notable magazines, Scribner's Magazine.
Timothy Cole was born in 1852 in London, England, the seventh of the twelve sons of Skinner Cole, a milliner. In 1857, the family immigrated to New York City. Following his mother's death, the family suffered financial hardship and Cole earned money as a delivery boy, newspaper seller, and lamplighter.
In 1868, the family moved to Chicago where Cole was apprenticed to a wood engraving firm and made rapid progress in learning this skill that was the most widely used method of magazine illustration at the time. When the Chicago Fire destroyed his place of employment in 1871, Cole returned New York City where his talents as a wood engraver were soon recognized by various artists and publishers. Cole began his career working for the magazines Hearth and Home, the Christian Weekly, and the Aldine Press.
After the Aldine Press went out of business in 1875, Cole was employed by Scribner's Magazine (later renamed Century Magazine.) During the same year, he married Annie Elizabeth Carter of Jersey City Heights, New Jersey. In 1883, Cole was commissioned by Century Magazine to travel in Europe and make wood engravings of the works of the old masters. He finished a series of Italian masters in 1892, a Dutch and Flemish series in 1896, an English series in 1900, a Spanish series in 1907, and a French series in 1910. In the course of his travels, Cole befriended many artists, including Joseph Pennell and James Abbott MacNeill Whistler. In 1910, Cole returned to the United States where he began work on a series of engravings of American master paintings in public and private collections.
Cole's work received a diploma of honor at the Chicago Exposition in 1893, the gold medal at the Paris Exposition of 1900, and the Grand Prix at the St. Louis Exposition in 1904. He was an honorary member of the Society of Sculptors, Painters, and Engravers of London, a member of the American Academy of Arts and letters, and was elected a National Academician in 1908. In 1903, Cole received an honorary M.A. degree from Princeton University.
Timothy Cole died on May 17, 1931 in Poughkeepsie, New York.