Like many of his contemporaries, Samuel Lancaster Gerry had no formal training but was a sign and decorative painter in 1835 and 1836. He made the ritualistic trip abroad to study paintings of the masters for the following three years before opening a studio in Boston in 1840. Gerry worked mostly in New England using his studio in Boston. For a while Gerry, an accomplished artist, conducted classes at the Tremont Street Studio Building. He supported the Boston Art Club from its inception in 1854 and was one of its first presidents.
Throughout his career, Gerry painted genre, portraits, and animals, as well as landscapes. He was a familiar figure in the lake district and White Mountains regions of New Hampshire. He especially liked to paint the Old Man of the Mountain and within the Franconia Notch area. The Crayon of October 1856 noted that “Gerry [was] at West Campton from August on at the ‘Stag and Hounds.'” He exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum, the Boston Art Club, the National Academy of Design, the American Art Union, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Gerry was also a writer of considerable note, publishing two newspapers and magazines.