Hiram Dwight Torrey was born in 1820 in New Lebanon, New York. He taught painting and drawing at the Washington Female Seminary in the late 1840’s. Torrey was primarily a landscape painter, but also produced portraits, hunting pieces, and still life paintings. Upon his marriage in 1850, he and his wife moved to Milwaukee where he opened an art studio. In 1853, Torrey relocated to Reading, Pennsylvania. It was during his residence in Reading that two of his paintings were accepted for exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.
Torrey was admired for his mastery of light, detail, and composition. Although his training is currently undocumented, his style reflects a knowledge of the school of classical American landscape painting of his time.
Hiram Torrey was also interested in music and poetry. He was instrumental in the founding of the Reading Musical Society and was a member of the Literary Society. Torrey remained in Reading until 1862, and eventually traveled abroad to study art. He returned to the United States and died in 1900 in Delanco, New Jersey.
In 1855, he exhibited a still life entitled “Peaches,” and in 1856, he exhibited a painting entitled “Sunrise Among the Mountains,” thought to represent the Berks County landscape. While living in Berks County, Torrey was befriended by Francis Daniel Devlan (1835-1870). Together they established the Reading Art Union in 1854, promoting local artists and providing purchasing opportunities for collectors.