Cropsey, who was trained as an architect began painting shortly after he set up his architecture business. He had
his first exhibit at the National Academy of Design in 1844. In 1851 he was elected a member into the academy. His interest in architecture always influenced his paintings with a strong sense of line and design but he left his mark with his use of strong and intense color. He was a first generation member of the Hudson River School. Cropsey traveled and painted oftenin Europe in the 1840s & 1850s. His sketches from nature were graphite with written color notes and watercolor. He founded the American Society of Painters in Watercolors in 1867.