Born in New Orleans, Paul Harney was a landscape, portrait and still-life painter. He studied at the National Academy of Design in New York City, and the Royal Academy in Munich. Among his teachers were Albon Jasper Conant, a portraitist of Abraham Lincoln. Harney settled in Alton, Illinois, across the river from Saint Louis. He taught art classes and served as a professor at Shurtleff College. He was very active in the Saint Louis artist community, occupying a chair in the Saint Louis School of Fine Art and being a member of the Saint Louis Artist Guild and the Society of Western Artists. Paul E. Harney died of tuberculosis on November 27, 1915 at age 65.

Sources include: Ivey-Selkirk auction catalogue, 11/10/2002