Thomas Hiram Hotchkiss, though his work today is highly-regarded, never became a successful artist in his lifetime. His personal history is full of missing pieces, including the depth and nature of his study.
Hotchkiss suffered from tuberculosis since his early years. He was close with several of his contemporaries and his work was first exhibited in 1853 at the studio of a friend, Henry Johnson Brent, in New York.
Thomas Hiram Hotchkiss is generally considered to be a member of the Hudson River School of painters. He was an Associate of the National Academy of design and elected to continue his studies in Europe, studying in Paris and in London. Though the Hudson School of Painters is inseparably associated with America, Hotchkiss did a great deal of his work in Rome in the middle 1800's, where he maintained a permanent studio and a close circle of fellow artists and friends. Some of his closest friends included Elihu Vedder and other Americans who had relocated to Italy, including William Wetmore Story.
Hotchkiss more or less became a permanent resident in Italy and only returned to the United States on one occasion after moving to Rome, to sketch the Catskills where he was born.