Jasper Francis Cropsey grew up on Staten Island, New York. He apprenticed at age 14 with the architect Joseph Trench. The young man took lessons from the English watercolorist Edward Maury; American painters William T. Ranney and William Sidney Mount encouraged his efforts. In 1843 Cropsey exhibited for the first time at the National Academy of Design. Though he was qualified as an architect, he began to support himself through his art and, in 1847, went to Europe for two years. Coming home, Cropsey set up a studio in New York.
His career blossomed through the rest of the 1860s and 1870s. The painter’s popularity faded as the grandeur of the Hudson River School gave way to a fashion for the moodier, more atmospheric paintings of the Barbizon School. But he continued to exhibit at the National Academy of Design and, from 1877, also at the American Society of Painters in Watercolor (later the American Watercolor Society).