Born in Salem, Massachusetts, Benson attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston from 1880 to 1883. In 1883, the artist traveled to Paris with childhood friend and fellow artist Edmund C. Tarbell where both men continued their studies at the Acad,mie Julian. Returning to the United States, Benson taught at the Portland School of Art and later at the Museum School in Boston with Tarbell.
Benson was accomplished in a variety of media including watercolor, pastel, aquatint and engraving and was a founding member of "The Ten," a group of ten well known American Impressionist painters from New York and Boston who exhibited together for nearly twenty years. Like his French counterparts, Benson frequently painted outdoors to capture the dynamic character of light. In the late 1890s the artist accepted a prestigious commission to work on the decoration of the Library of Congress and completed murals of Fours Seasons and Three Graces for the project. The Impressionist style, pioneered by Monet in France, enjoyed tremendous popularity with the American public and as a result, Benson attained a large measure of success as an artist during his lifetime.