Theodore Earl Butler was born in 1861 in Columbus, Ohio. After graduating High School in 1882, he enrolled at the Art Students League in New York where he studied the arts from 1884 until 1886; from there he left to study art in Paris.
In 1885 Butler created his fist work, a replica of Diego Velazquez’s Standing Bearded Man. Butler later exhibited one of his paintings, in 1888, to the Salon where he received Honorable Mention. In 1892 he married Suzanne Hoschede, the stepdaughter of Claude Monet. Butler later showed his work in the Barc de Bouttelville exhibit in 1894. The Vollard Gallery hosted an exclusive show in 1897; however, his artwork was criticized as derivative of his father-in-law, Monet.
During the 1890s Butler assisted in the publication of a local magazine in Giverny, France called Le Courrier Innocent. Butler also started a series of paintings in which he incorporated events from his life, including The Bath, After the Bath, and Playing with Jimmy. These paintings depicted both of his children, a son (Jimmy born in 1893) and daughter (Lily born in 1894).
After his wife passed away in 1899, Butler moved back to America with his sister-in-law, Marthe Hoschede, whom he married later that year. This same year Butler’s work was shown in an exclusive show at the Durand-Ruel Galleries in New York. He moved his family back to Giverny, only to return to New York again in 1913. That same year he donated two pieces of his artwork to the Armory Show in New York. From 1912 till 1916, Butler created murals for private customers. In 1918 Butler and a friend founded the Society of Independent Artists where he continued as a board member until 1921.
In 1921 Theodore Earl Butler moved his family back to Giverny where he died in 1936.