One of America's first landscape painters and an early member of the Hudson River School, Thomas Doughty began his adult life as a businessman dealing in leather goods. In his leisure time he enjoyed painting and sketching. He took three months of professional training drawing with ink, and that was the extent of his formal education.
By 1822, Doughty exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in his native Philadelphia. Soon after he became a member of the Academy, and only five years after beginning to exhibit he was made a member of the National Academy of Design in New York.
In addition to painting landscapes he served as an illustrator and lithographer, publishing a journal with his brother from 1830 to 1834 and receiving the commission to illustrate James Fennimore Cooper's novel "Pioneers".
By 1832 he had relocated to Boston, where he opened a studio, and five years later headed to England where he took sketching and painting excursions, including scenes of the Thames River and the Seine River in France.
Upon his return he settled in New York, but headed up the Hudson River to Newburgh within a year. He remained in the area for a year before returning to New York City, and in 1845, Doughty made his final trip to Europe. He settled permanently in New York City for the remainder of his life.
His works were only slightly influenced by some of the paintings he observed while abroad; as a forerunner of the landscape specialty, Doughty's subject matter was new territory. He is credited for his atmospheric effects and his use of native trees to depict an accurate but softly romantic scene.
Exhibitions of his works were staged in the city's he inhabited, including the Paris Salon, and his works are in dozens of major museums.