William Mason Brown, a native of Troy, New York, was initially trained as an engraver before becoming a landscape painter and then devoting himself to still-life subjects. Brown's career in landscapes dates mostly from the 1850s through the 1860s. The artist's experience as an engraver allowed tremendous precision in his rendering of detail. Late Afternoon Light emanates the elegant, fluid style of Romanticism, marking Brown's sense of color and technical brilliance. According to William Gerdts: "His meticulous yet painterly scenes...maintain an allegiance to the Romantic tradition of Thomas Cole even as that tradition was being supplanted by more prosaic naturalism in mainstream American Landscape Painting." (Art Across America, vol. 1, New York, p. 236)
Brown began to exhibit at the National Academy of Design in New York in 1859 and continued to exhibit there annually until 1890. The landscapes Brown exhibited suggest he traveled to the Catskills, Adirondacks, Berkshires and Green Mountains.