William Holbrook Beard was born on April 13, 1825 in Painesville, Ohio. He studied abroad, and in 1861 moved to New York City, where, in 1862, he became a member of the National Academy of Design.
He was a prolific worker and a man of much inventiveness and originality, though of modest artistic endowment. His humorous treatment of bears, cats, dogs, horses and monkeys, generally with some human occupation and expression, usually satirical, gave him a great vogue at one time, and his pictures were largely reproduced.
William Holbrook Beard died February 20, 1900. He is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.