Thaddeus Welch, though his studies would take him abroad for a part of his life, was very much a part of the history of the American West, having moved to Oregon in a covered wagon in the early 1850's.
He exhibited a natural gift for art and, in the 1870's, studied in Munich on a scholarship. He forged friendships with other artists, inducing Frank Duveneck and spent several years roaming abroad until returning to the United States.
He spend the 1880's and 1890's travelling across America putting his efforts toward various projects along the way. He worked in Australia for a time as a painter of cycloramas before moving back to the Untied states where, in the early 1900's, he would enjoy is first substantial success as an artist and become influential in American landscape art.
Returning to California, he busied himself painting landscapes in Marin county, though his style had changed and evolved and become characterized by having more of a realist approach than did his early works. This work resulted in him finally achieving some commercial success. Always the frontiersman, Thaddeus Welch and his wife-who was also an artist-indulged their new-found success by spending part of 1900 living in a tent in Yosemite.