Francis Seth Frost, usually referred to (incorrectly) as Francis Shedd Frost, was born in West Cambridge, Massachusetts in late April 1825 to Anstress Trow, a native of Mont Vernon, New Hampshire. Whether Frost had any artistic training is unknown, but he clearly was painting by the late 1840’s. In 1853 Frost climbed to the Tip Top House on Mount Washington, establishing himself as one of the first visitors to the White Mountains. His first known painting, View of Tuckerman’s Ravine, was exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum’s spring 1854 exhibition. For the next half century, Frost traveled throughout New England, the Hudson River Valley, and the Western United States producing an extensive, now mostly lost, collection of paintings.
Frost was a founding member of the Boston Art Club. He painted in the Rocky Mountains with Bierstadt in 1859. Contrary to popular myth, Frost did not abscond with Bierstadt’s wife. By 1859 Frost had been married to his wife of 53 years, Almira, for ten years.
In the 1850’s and early 1860’s, Frost’s artistic reputation seemed fixed. He was known familiarly in the press as “Frost” and was referred to in casual company with Champney, Gerry, Shattuck, and others. He exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum from 1854 to 1864. But, in the late 1860’s his eminence receded and, in 1990, only seven paintings by Frost were documented in the Inventory of American Paintings at the Smithsonian Institution.
Frost died in Arlington, Massachusetts, in 1902 and was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery.