Wilhelm Thöny was born on February 10, 1888 in Graz. He studied from 1908 to 1912 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. He was a founding member of the Munich Secession where he became friends with Alfred Kubin, with whom he kept close contact. In 1915 Wilhelm Thöny moved to Graz as a one-year volunteer and was employed as a "regimental painter" on the Italian front in 1917. His often very large-scale depictions of the battles of the riflemen's regiment number 3 were printed on color postcards in favor of the widows and orphans' fund of the regiment.
After the war, he returned to Graz via Munich in 1923 and became co-founder and first president of the Graz Secession. The first large oil painting "Ile de la Cite" was made in Paris in 1929. Fascinated by the capital cities of the modern world, he left Graz and lived in Paris from 1931 to 1938. In 1933 he came to New York for the first time. In Paris he drew numerous oil paintings and watercolors with New York motifs, which he was awarded the gold medal for at the Paris World Exposition in 1937. At the end of 1938, he finally left Europe and went to New York, where the circumstances of the Second World War were completely confined. Then when finally international success was close, a fire in a New York warehouse house burned countless of his graphics and paintings. Today, Thöny is one of the most important Austrian artists of the first half of the 20th century. Wilhelm Thöny died in New York City on the 1st of May 1949.