Robert Cranell Minor’s father was a coal dealer, and that was to have been his career—but he was drawn instead to art. His first teacher was Alfred C. Howland, an artist himself who had studied in Düsseldorf and in Paris with the Barbizon painters. Minor followed his teacher’s path to Europe in the mid-1860s, and remained there for almost 10 years. He joined the community of artists at Barbizon and studied there under Narcisse Diaz de la Peña (1807-1876). Minor traveled throughout Europe, spending two years painting landscapes in England. He showed his work at the 1872 Paris Salon as well as in London’s Royal Academy before returning to the United States in the mid-1870s. Minor opened a studio on New York’s Washington Square and spent summers painting in the Adirondacks.
Minor frequently painted interior forest scenes, similar to the work of Theodore Rousseau and Diaz de la Peña. Minor was a member of the National Academy of Design and the Salmagundi Club.