Thomas Hill, originally from England, studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy in Philadelphia. Moving to San Fransisco in 1871, Hill began his first monumental works with his 1871 paintings titled "The Yosemite Valley". With Frederic Whimper, Hill was a founding member of the San Fransisco Art Association. Hill left San Fransisco in the summer of 1887 and went on a cruise of Alaska that resulted in a number of Alaska and Canadian costal pictures.
Hill is one of America's most recognized 19th-century landscape painters. Hill built his studio in Yosemite National Park and was particularly fascinated by the geysers he eventually painted over 5,000 paintings of Yosemite.