A notable genre painters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Harry Roseland was born in Brooklyn, New York and remained there throughout his career. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he did not travel to Europe. He was largely self taught as an artist but did some study with J.B. Whittaker in Brooklyn.
At a time when abstract art was gaining ascendency, Roseland chose to paint what he saw in a realist style and early in his career painted landscapes and still lifes. But he soon discovered that his real interest was painting that told a story.
His early subjects were sentimental and depicted fashionable people, rural folk, and idealized farm scenes. He painted humorous scenes of blacks in Northern settings during the post-Civil War period.
He was a member of the Brooklyn Arts Club, the Brooklyn Society of Artists*, the Brooklyn Painters Society, and the Salmagundi Club*.
Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
His birth date is disputed with art historians Peter Falk listing it as 1866 and Marlor and Zellman giving it as 1868.