Hal Alexander Courtney Morrison was born on Prince Edward Island, Canada in 1852. As a young man he attended Harvard Medical School and spent two years working as a member of the medical staff on the Intercolonial Railroad. The job afforded him plenty of spare time and he remembered, “I did nothing but paint and fish, and finally abandoned my profession entirely to rove over the whole world and paint what pleased me.” For the next seven years Morrison traveled across Europe and studied art in Paris. He was also an avid hunter and fisherman and became “something of a taxidermist”, collecting specimens of fish and wild game which he used as models. 

In the early 1880s Morrison moved to Atlanta, Georgia to open a teaching studio. He offered students lessons in oils and in watercolors, and he was best known for his still-life paintings of flowers, fruit and game. Morrison painted in a highly detailed, and traditional manner and his paintings were admired for their photographic realism. Although he was not native to Atlanta, he was very loyal to his adopted city and settled comfortably into a social circle of Southern artists and writers. From Atlanta, Morrison exhibited and sold his work across the country and the world. In 1889 he exhibited at the Piedmont Exposition and received rave reviews. In 1890 the Dunlap Coal and Iron Company in Tennessee commissioned him to complete two paintings for which he received “the commendation for his work”. Over the next decade his reputation steadily grew and he showed his work at a number of expositions. As Morrison’s career as an artist progressed he was able to find time to pursue his other passion, the outdoors. He vacationed in the mountains of North Carolina and in the marshlands of Florida. Inspiration for many of his wildlife studies came from these hunting and fishing trips. By the late 1890s he was spending the winter months in Florida, both for his health and for inspiration. 

Hal Morrison lived in Atlanta until 1918 when his wife passed away. Shortly afterward he remarried and moved to Florida, only to return to the Atlanta area in 1927 because of an illness that required hospitalization. He died in the Davis-Fischer sanatorium in September of 1927.