Robert Frederick Blum was born in Cincinnati in 1857. He dropped out of high school and began working as an apprentice for lithographers, Gibson & Co at 16 years old. He studied drawing and eventually went on to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he was influenced by the modern art of the day.
After his studies, he moved to New York and taught at the Art Students League with fellow artists John Henry Twachtman, and Edward Henry Potthast. Robert Blum had the opportunity to travel to Europe and Japan and the experience greatly influenced his work. James McNeill Whistler introduced Robert Blum to the pastels. They were both associated with the Society of Painters of Pastel. He also worked in watercolor, pen and ink, etching, and oil.
Robert Blum is best known for his paintings from his travels. He won gold medals at the 1889 Paris Exposition and the 1901 Pan American Exposition for his work. Today, his paintings can be found in the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Cincinnati Art Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.