An important Hudson River School painter, William M. Hart was born in Paisley, Scotland in 1823, and immigrated to Albany, New York in 1831 with his family. Although he apprenticed with a carriage maker, Hart seemed to have a natural talent for painting. His brother and sister, James McDougal Hart and Julie Hart Beers were also artists, and by the time he was 18 years old, Hart was a self-taught portrait painter.
Hart left Albany in 1840 to travel within the US. He painted in Troy (NY), Richmond (VA), and Michigan, where he spent three years. By 1847, he had an established reputation as a landscape painter, and even instructed painters Homer Dodge Martin and Lemuel Miles. In the late 1880s, Hart painted many pastoral scenes in the Lower Keene Valley in northern New York State. His paintings were produced as engravings and widely distibuted.
Hart died in Mount Vernon, New York in 1894.