Harold Weston, born to a prosperous family in Merion, Pennsylvania, in 1894, was stimulated by his mother's love of music and his father's leadership in the Philadelphia Society of Ethical Culture to become active in art and public service. Despite an early bout with polio, Weston led a full life, graduating magna cum laude with a fine arts degree from Harvard University. During World War I, he did relief work and was a painter for the British Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force. After traveling extensively, he returned home and built a primitive studio in St. Hubert’s in the Adirondacks. Weston painted in isolation for three years, developing a personal expressionist style, His early works, with boldly simplified forms, exaggerated rhythms, and economical imagery reveal an affinity with Marsden Hartley's art. His later work shows him experimenting with abstraction. He had his first solo show in New York in 1922 and for the next eighteen years exhibited widely.
Humanitarian activities took precedence over making art at mid-century. Weston created the civilian organization, Food For Freedom, Inc., and as its director lobbied for American involvement in the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. From 1955 to 1965, he urged government support for the arts and helped plan the National Foundation of the Arts and Humanities. Weston died in New York City in 1972.