George Washington Mark, sometimes called "Count Mark" or "The Count", was born in Charlestown, New Hampshire, in 1795. He died July 18, 1879.
Mark may have served on a schooner before settling in the Connecticut Valley town of Greenfield, Massachusetts, in 1817. Shortly after his arrival there, he married his first wife, Mary Ann Skinner of Gill, Massachusetts. Mary Torrey Temple Ball, from Deerfield, Massachusetts became his second wife in 1862.
In Greenfield Mark first advertised his services as a house painter. As the years went by he added to his repertoire the occupations of sign and furniture painting, wood and stone imitation, picture framing, and other related activities. Mark's advertisements from the period reveal an extensive vocabulary and talent for persuasive writing that suggest that he was well read.
It was perhaps in the 1830s, when Mark's business was thriving and he had four house painters in his employ, that he indulged in art for the first time. Although it is not known precisely when he began, he apparently had been making pictures for some time before December 1848, when he announced the opening of an art gallery in his home devoted exclusively to his own paintings. His first exhibition, which ran for three weeks, was advertised as "The Dying Greek and twenty-five other paintings." The artist charged visitors a quarter for admission. The following year Mark staged another exhibition, increasing the number of paintings to thirty-three and printing a catalogue, of which no copies are known today. The catalogue for Mark's third exhibition, held in 1850, lists seventy-six works.