One of the most prominent of American Tonalist painters, Dwight Tryon was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1849. Though largely self-taught, he achieved enough early success painting in a Hudson River style to afford a trip to Europe in 1876. In France, he studied with Henri-Joseph Harpignies and J. B. Antoine Guillemet, but a decisive event in the evolution of his style was a summer spent studying with Barbizon artist Charles-Francois Daubigny. Upon his return to the United States in 1881, he took up residence in New York City. His search for more picturesque settings, however, led him to the fishing village of South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, where he summered and eventually built a small house. Among the artists he met in New York were Thomas Wilmer Dewing and Robert Swain Gifford, with whom he remained close friends.
Like many of his Tonalist peers, Tryon preferred intimate and lyrical low-light landscapes of rather simple composition. In a statement quoted in a biography published shortly after his death, he summarizes the method which gives his work an uncanny dynamism: "Often in painting a bit of sky, I will put blue on it and scrape it off; I will put pink on it and scrape it off; I will put yellow on it and scrape it off; I will put green on it and scrape it off, and my sky will look almost white-but it isn't, for it will have in it the vibrations of all those colors.