American Impressionist painter Edward Emerson Simmons is best remembered for his murals, but was also a gifted figure and landscape painter who enjoyed working "en plein air".
He was a graduate of Harvard College, but abandoned a career as an architect in favor of painting. He traveled to Cincinnati in order to meet painter and teacher Frank Duveneck, and then even farther on to San Francisco where the rough social scene obliged him to return to Boston. After studying briefly in the city he journeyed to Paris where he enrolled in the Academie Julian and the Ecole des Beaux Arts, where he studied under Boulanger and Lefebvre and became a close friend of James Whistler.
He began to exhibit at the Salon in 1881 (and would continue to do so until 1889). Simmons returned to the United States in 1891, and was commissioned to decorate the domes at the Manufacturer's Building for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. From that point forward he decided to work strictly in the mural format.
He was awarded the first commission from the Municipal Art Society in New York City, which advocated excellence in urban design, planning, architecture and historic preservation. He painted three murals in the Criminal Courthouse. He would additionally paint in the Boston and Massachusetts State Houses, the Library of Congress, the Astoria Hotel, and the state capitol buildings in St. Paul, Minnesota and Pierre, South Dakota.
In 1897 he joined "The Ten", who had formally resigned from the Society of American Artists to protest the commercialism of the organization. He would enter their exhibitions from 1900 through 1919.
Several of his canvas paintings are in the public collections of the George Walter Vincent Smith Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts as well as other in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia.