Harry Hoffman was born in Cressona, Pennsylvania and began his academic training in Paris, then at Yale University and the Art Students League in New York. In 1902, Hoffman visited Old Lyme, Connecticut and stayed at the house of art patron Florence Griswold. Old Lyme was a renowned art colony, and served as a base for Hoffman throughout his life. From 1905 to 1906 Hoffman studied and traveled in France, and his impressionist paintings from this period form the basis of the impressionist style that defined his career, a style that was encouraged by fellow painter Willard Metcalf. In the 1920s Hoffman documented the natural scenery of the Galapagos Islands, Bermuda and British Guiana while accompanying a research expedition organized by naturalist William Beebe.
Hoffman was elected to the National Academy of Design in 1930. His work can be found in the collections of the Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, CT; the Art Institute of Chicago and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA.