William Haseltine was born in 1835. He concentrated on academics from 1850-1854 at the University of Pennsylvania and at Harvard. Later, he studied landscape painting in Düsseldorf with Auchenbach from 1854-58. Haseltine was noted for his keen sense of light with a focus on geological detail. He became one of the major figures of American artists in Düsseldorf at that time.
In 1859, Haseltine returned to America and took a place in the 10th Street Studio Building. However, in 1866 he left for Paris and then moved to Rome in 1869, which remained his home until death. In Rome he specialized in Italian scenes for American patrons and had replaced his cool palette with the warm hues of Italy. Haseltine had also been elected to the board of the National Academy of Design.