Edwin Lord Weeks was born in Newton, a suburb of Boston in 1849. His parents were affluent spice and tea merchants from Newton and as such they were able to accept, probably encourage, and certainly finance their son's youthful interest in painting and traveling. As a young man he visited the Florida Keys to draw and also traveled to Surinam in South America.
He traveled to Egypt, the Holy Land and Syria as far as Damascus. Later living in Paris, Weeks first of all attempted to enroll at the atelier of Gerome in the �cole des Beaux-Arts. However, while waiting for his application to be accepted, he started to work in a private atelier, that of Leon Bonnat, a close friend of Gerome who had also traveled with him in North Africa. Indeed when he was finally granted admission to Gerome's atelier in September 1874, he was so satisfied with his studies with Bonnat that he decided to stay there and not accept the place offered. Although the Boston journals from then on started to call him "a student of Gerome" in fact he never was and he always referred to himself as a "student of Bonnat". However it is likely that he knew Gerome socially.
Edwin Lord Weeks died in 1903.