American landscape painter Birge Harrison achieved a remarkable amount of professional recognition throughout his career. He would receive numerous prizes and medals, membership in the National Academy of Design as well as the Society of American Artists and is considered a founding member of the Woodstock, New York arts colony. Additionally, he was a director of the landscape school of the Arts Students League in New York and began its summer program in Woodstock.
He began his formal training at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he met John Singer Sargent in 1876. Sargent recommended him to his own mentor, Carolus Duran, and Harrison traveled to Paris to study under him. A year later he enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux Arts where he was a student of Alexandre Cabanel. The French government purchased one of his paintings in 1882, and this enabled him to travel widely, including journeys through Australia, Asia and Africa. He worked as an illustrator for several American publications at that time, and he submitted scenes from his travels to them.
Back in America he focused on landscape painting, where he worked in a Tonalist style, capturing city scenes in a subdued palette. Quite soon however he transitioned to Impressionism, particularly after several trips to the American West, where he was impressed by the pueblos and Native Americans. He soon earned a reputation for remarkable moonlit landscapes, snow scenes and the Indian genre. While he relied on the Impressionist techniques, he never painted "en plein air", instead memorizing his scene and painting it in the studio.
His works are in the collections of more than two dozen museums in the United states, including the Arizona State University Art Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.