In the late 1870s the Hudson River School of painting was waning, and several prominent artists and writers banded together in a group they named the "Tilers". Among them were Winslow Homer, William Merritt Chase, Augustus Saint Gaudens, and Arthur Quartley. They would meet to discuss their theories and to paint tiles to promote their exhibitions.
Quartley was born in Paris, the son of an English engraver, and had moved to the United States at the age of twelve. He had trained at his father's side, and by the age of seventeen was serving as the apprentice to a noted Baltimore sign painter.
At the age of twenty-three he joined his family in founding their own design firm, which was soon known as the best decorating company in Baltimore. In his spare time Quartley painted seascapes, and even staged a solo exhibition that brought him much public acclaim. This prompted him to pursue a career in art, and he relocated to New York where he continued to paint the bays and harbors of the entire region, including Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
By 1878 he was taking painting excursions with his fellow Tilers, and Quartley soon drew a great deal of attention. He was elected to the National Academy in 1876, and was included in an 1880 publication of prominent American painters.
His works were often compared to those of the Dutch masters for their subject matter and for their treatment of color and light. His works were widely purchased during his lifetime, and are in the collections of many major American museums, including the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, the New York Historical Society and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, among many others.