Thomas P. Rossiter was raised by his maternal grandparents in New Haven, Connecticut. Rossiter was abandoned after his mother died, and his father’s salt-mining business failed. He loved to draw, and studied with an engraver and portrait painter while still a teenager. The National Academy of Design in New York exhibited two of his paintings, which gave him the confidence to open a studio in the city. Rossiter was known for his portraits, but also painted landscape, history, and religious scenes. He traveled to Europe, and upon his return to New York, had a successful show of paintings that he created in Rome.