William H. Gerdts was born in 1929 in Jersey City, New Jersey. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Amherst College and a master's degree and PhD in fine arts from Harvard University. He has served as curator of art at the Norfolk (Virginia) Museum and resident director of the historic Myers House in Norfolk, as curator of painting and sculpture at the Newark (New Jersey) Museum, and as gallery director at the University of Maryland (College Park), where he also taught art history. He is an art historian and professor of art history at CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of 25 books on American art including Art Across America. Two Centuries of Regional Painting and American Impressionism.