Jervis McEntee is a native of the Hudson River Valley. He was born in Rondout, New York, near the Catskill Mountains, and died in this same community. McEntee was influenced by the work of Fredric E. Church and studied under his mentorship during the winter of 1850. Though he spent most of his life living in Rondout, he did open a studio in New York City in 1858 where he spent his winters working before returning to the river valley in the summer.
Like Church, McEntee was a landscape artist, but he distinguished himself from his mentor by painting small "snapshot" views rather than the popular panoramas of the time. Also, while other artists were painting a romanticized rendition of the rural surroundings of the Catskills area, McEntee became known for his simple, naturalistic, detailed paintings. He highlighted the autumn and winter months evoking a more melancholy and desolate mood. He often used poetry for inspiration; William Cullen Bryant's poem "The Death of the Flowers" served as inspiration for his painting The Melancholy Days Have Come.
In 1860, he was elected as an associate member of the National Academy of Design and became a full member in 1861. McEntee was also a member of the Hudson River School. His work has been on display at the Brooklyn Art Association, the Boston Art Club, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
McEntee married a minister's daughter who accompanied him to New York City. Since most of the other occupants of Richard Morris Hunt's Tenth Street Studio Building were bachelors or travelers, the McEntees become known for hosting lively and spontaneous parties. He kept detailed diaries accounting the typical life of a painter in the Gilded Age with descriptions of his fellow artists from the Hudson River School. His diaries also included his thoughts about major events including the opening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Bridge. McEntee died in 1891.