A popular painter of murals, William de Leftwich Dodge would spend most of his childhood in the art circles of Paris and Munich. His skills were all ready so far advanced that at the age of nineteen Dodge submitted a work to the American Art Association's 1886 exhibition, and took home the gold medal. (This was his remarkably famous "The Death of Minnehaha".)
When it came time for him to begin his formal training he placed first in his entrance examination at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. He studied under Academic painter Jean Leon Gerome. He was also successful at exhibiting his historical paintings at the Paris Salon, and upon his return to the United States in 1889 he received numerous important commissions.
He always created his work from careful life work and historical research in order to insure accuracy.
He is considered one of the most prominent and successful muralists of the period, especially because he worked in the age when murals were thought an essential for any public buildings and many private homes. By 1893 he was commissioned to decorate the dome of the central building of the Colombian Exposition.
His murals can be seen in the Library of Congress, the Orpheum Theatre in Boston and the State Capitol building in Albany, New York, among many other locations. His easel paintings are in the collections of several major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, both in Washington, D.C.