One of New Jersey’s foremost Impressionist painters, also an etcher and lithographer, Thomas Manley was known as “...the Dean of Montclair artists." Born in Buffalo, New York in1853, Manley first attempted to study law. Not inspired by the legal profession, he scraped together enough money to study for two months at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Thomas Eakin’s life class.
While in Philadelphia he met Joseph Pennell and became intrigued with the famous etcher's work. He moved to New York to freelance in etching and painting and although primarily self-taught, he quickly became successful selling his own work. Newspapers and magazines were publishing Manley’s illustrations at a time when it was still technically difficult to print photos on newsprint. New York's leading print dealer, Frederick Keppel began to sell his etchings and Manley began to supply plates to New York dealers and publishers for years to follow.
Manley married in 1887 and moved with his wife to Montclair, New Jersey in 1893, where he set up a studio and resided permanently until his death.
Manley painted bright colored landscapes with a unique style of applying a thick impasto in short dashing strokes giving his paintings a textured pointillist effect. His most common subjects are scenes of rural New Jersey and views of the Morris Canal.
He was a member of the American Watercolor Society, the National Arts Club and the New York Watercolor Club. He exhibited at the Boston Art Club, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis(1904 medal) Society of Independent Artists, the National Academy of Design and the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, 1915.