Tolman was one of the important painters in Providence at the end of the century. He had studied at the Grundman Studios in Boston and then went on to Paris to study with Boulanger & Lefebre at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and the Julian Academy. In 1890 he came to Providence to head up RISD'S painting department. There was an evolution of his work from somber brown tones which gave way to prismatic colors after the introduction of impressionism. This dedicated artist was versatile in all media and his palette evolved in the same manner as his subject matter. In his early academic style of limited color range he concentrated on genre scenes of the country doctor making a house call or the maiden at home doing chores. With the influence of impressionism his subjects gave way to colorful loosely rendered New England summer days and pastel winter scenes. Many of his colleagues found it difficult to understand how his masterful pictures were not awarded the national attention they deserved. His genre and landscapes remain actively collected and appreciated for their skillful rendering. He was a member of the Providence Art Club, Providence Water Color Club and the Boston Art Club. His work can be seen in the collections of the Providence Art Club, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City.
Prices for Tolman's works are in the $600 to $3,000 range.