Painter. A landscape specialist, he is remembered for crisp views of the New England shore and for Italian scenes. An expatriate during most of his professional life, he earned an international reputation. Born in Philadelphia, he studied at the University of Pennsylvania while also working with the recently arrived, German-born landscapist and portrait painter Paul Weber (1823–1916). He transferred to Harvard for his final two years of college, returning after his graduation in 1854 to Philadelphia. The next year he departed for Düsseldorf, where he studied with Andreas Achenbach and became friendly with Americans in Emanuel Leutze's circle. In the spring of 1856 he headed off with Worthington Whittredge and Albert Bierstadt through Switzerland to Italy, reaching Rome in the fall. While he also sketched widely in the Italian countryside, the city remained his headquarters until the summer of 1858, when he moved to New York. His popular coastal views from subsequent years continued the Hudson River School's realistically detailed reverence for nature. In their preoccupation with effects of natural light, these works demonstrate links with luminism as well. In 1866 he departed, more or less permanently, for Europe. In Paris he admired Barbizon painting and proto-impressionist plein air experiments. Three years later he settled in Rome but continued to travel within Europe and frequently visited the United States. After 1874, when he took up residence in the stately Villa Altieri, his home functioned as a gathering spot for American artists, writers, and travelers. Haseltine spent much of the 1890s in the United States and at his death had only recently returned to Rome from a trip to the American West and Alaska. Characteristic of his American shore scenes, Castle Rock, Nahant (Corcoran Gallery, 1865) offers sparkling summer sun playing across blue water and warmly toned rocks. Tiny vacationers scramble on the stony seaside or scan the ocean, serving to humanize the sharply recorded, otherwise austere terrain. Haseltine's European views include many additional shore scenes, such as Capri (Cleveland Museum of Art, 1869), which counterpoises a huge and ungainly rock outcropping against a gentle sea. The softer light here reveals the more atmospheric approach he adopted after his return to Europe. Subtly variegated tones, rendered in delicate, feathery brushwork, suffuse distant clouds, as well as the water's surface.
Sculptor Herbert Haseltine (1877–1962), the painter's son, specialized in animal subjects, both life-size and in tabletop reductions. Born in Rome and educated at Harvard, he studied art in Munich, Rome, and Paris, where he spent most of his adult life. His early, fluent realism conveys his subjects' fleet energies, but after World War I he drew on Egyptian precedents to stylize and simplify forms in a more modern conceptualization of animal vitality. During World War II, he resided in the United States but returned abroad in 1947. He died in Paris. William Stanley's brother, sculptor James Henry Haseltine (1833–1907), also born in Philadelphia, interrupted his European training to serve in the Union military during the Civil War. Known for ideal subjects, as well as portraits, he resided in Paris, Nice, and Rome, where he died. A third brother, Charles Field Haseltine (1840–1915), painted landscapes and worked as an art dealer in Philadelphia.