William Anderson Coffin, a native of Allegheny, Pennsylvania, was one of the American Expatriates, in the company of Thomas Eakins, William Merritt Chase and John Singer Sargent, among others. Coffin studied in the atélier of academic artist Léon Bonnat for several years, and exhibited in the Paris Salons of 1879, 1880 and 1882.
Painted in 1880, The Mandolin Player was most likely shown in the Paris Salon. With its brilliant jewel tones and vibrant brush work, The Mandolin Player is very much influenced by Coffin's exposure to European art. The influence of Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velasquez and Edouard Manet's early painting is evident.
In 1883 Coffin moved back to America and settled in New York City. Coffin was an important figure in both the Pan-American Exposition in 1901, and Panama- Pacific Exposition in 1915. He directed the Fine Arts Division in the former, and helped organize the latter. He was also involved in other artists' groups, holding office in several, including the Municipal Art Society and the American Fine Arts Society.
Coffin's work can be found in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C.