Born in Philadelphia, Joseph Jefferson grew up in the theater. His first role was at age four when he appeared in a play in Washington, D.C. Although he was best known as an actor, acclaimed for such roles as the main character in Dion Boucicault's Rip Van Winkle, Jefferson was an avid painter in his spare time. A collector of the work of the Barbizon School and nineteenth-century Dutch landscape painters, he tended to paint similar subjects. Jefferson exhibited his work at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1868 and the National Academy of Design in 1890. In 1899 he had a solo exhibition in Washington, D.C.
Joann Moser Singular Impressions: The Monotype in America (Washington, D.C. and London: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Museum of American Art, 1997)