(Deerfield, Massachusetts, 1822 - 1884, Brookline, Massachusetts)
Fuller was born in Deerfield, Massachusetts, to a New England farm family. In 1838 he entered the Deerfield Academy and began painting portraits in his spare time.
To study with the sculptor Henry K. Brown, Fuller moved to Albany during 1841. He then earned his living working for five years as a portraitist in Boston. In 1847, he moved to New York City to study at the National Academy of Design. This early work consisted largely of portraits and genre scenes in a tight, realist style.
In 1859 after the death of his father and elder brother, Fuller returned to Deerfield to care for the family farm. Before withdrawing from the art world, he made a grand tour of Europe to view the work of the Old Masters. Continuing to paint on holidays and during the winter months, he experimented with Rembrandtesque light effects. He began to present his subjects in a direct, almost naïve manner, trying to convey feeling without recourse to literary subject matter or traditional symbolism.
When the economic crisis of 1875 forced Fuller into bankruptcy, he decided to return to the art world. Exhibiting his work at Doll and Richard’s Gallery in Boston in the spring of 1876, he was hailed as one of America’s leading artists.