The Art Students League was founded in New York City in 1875 as an alternative to the classic art academy, offering instruction at an affordable price on a flexible schedule, without formal degree programs or grades. A summer program was added in 1906, and the landscape artist Lovell Birge Harrison (1854-1929) was appointed to be its first director. Harrison prepared a series of lectures for the summer students on the technique of painting and the life of the serious artist, but on the first day of class he had reason to wonder whether any of them would show up to hear him speak. Attendance at lectures, presumably, was optional. Harrison had a wealth of personal and professional experiences to share with the class. He had been an art student himself, many years before, first at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and later in Paris under the supervision of Charles-Émile-Auguste Carolus-Duran and Alexander Cabanel. Between semesters, he spent his summers at French art colonies, and at one of these he met Eleanor Ritchie, an Australian painter, who became his wife. Together they visited Australia, India, and the South Seas, writing and illustrating travel articles for magazines. After Eleanor died in 1895 of complications of pregnancy, Harrison settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and began to paint landscapes of snow. In 1904 he took a teaching position at the Byrdcliffe Arts and Crafts Colony in Woodstock, New York, and was recruited to head the summer program of the Art Students League two years later.