Ransome Holdredge was born in New York City in 1836. As a young man, he came to San Francisco in the 1850’s via the isthmus of Panama and worked as a draftsman at the Mare Island Navy Yard in Vallejo. He took many painting excursions from the Bay Area, many to Yosemite, and his early paintings were in the realistic style of the Hudson River School.
In 1874, he went to Paris and was impressed with the Barbizon artists. Upon his return to San Francisco, his work was of a different style. He was highly successful, receiving rave reviews in local papers, and was considered by many to be better than his well known contemporary, William Keith. He traveled throughout the west, living with various Indian tribes and was a field artist for Schribner’s and was with Major Reno during Custer’s last stand in 1876.