A portrait painter who, in the early part of his career, traveled widely, Benoni Irwin was born in Canada. He studied in New York City at the National Academy of Design from 1861 to 1863 and with Hudson-River painter Asher Durand. From 1867 to 1869, he studied in Paris with Emile Carolus Duran and then returned to America where he spent time in the 1870s and 1880s in Lousisville, Kentucky as a portraitist. In 1870 he was in California and again in 1872, when he was a resident for five years in San Francisco and Oakland.
In 1877, he settled in New York City and was voted into membership of the National Academy of Design. He had a summer home near Lake Waumgumbaug, Connecticut, and drowned there when he was sketching in a small boat and caused it to capsize.
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art
John Davis, Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of the National Academy of Design, 1826-1925, (David Dearinger, Editor)