Born in Palatine, Illinois on March 15, 1867, he was one of four sons of a prominent Chicago merchant. He attended Yale University and graduated from its Sheffield Scientific School in 1888, and later returned as an instructor for the 1890 academic year. He later studied art in various cities, including Chicago, San Francisco, Paris and Munich, specializing in landscape painting. He married Helen Shearman in California in 1891. He moved with his wife and two children, Samuel H. McCrea and Helen R. McCrea, to Paris in 1896. He later moved back to the United States in 1901 following the death of his wife in Paris, and lived in Chicago before settling in Darien, Connecticut, where he lived until his death in 19
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