Boris Schatz was born in Varniai, Kaunas district, Lithuania, under the rule of the Russian Empire in 1867. His father, a teacher in a Cheder (a religious school), sent him to study in a yeshiva in Vilnius, Lithuania. He left the yeshiva a short time later to study painting and sculpture in Vilnius (1882–1887) and Warsaw, Poland (1888–1889). In 1889, he moved to Paris to study at the Académie Cormon and noted artists there, among them Mark Antokolski whom he knew from Vilnius.
Schatz was married to Louise. His daughter Zahara Schatz (1916–1999) and son Bezalel Schatz (1912–1978), nicknamed Lilik, were also artists. The 1955 Israel Prize for Art was awarded to Zahara in recognition of the whole Schatz family.
While living on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in exile from Jerusalem during the First World War, Schatz wrote a futurist novel entitled The Rebuilt Jerusalem in which Bezalel ben Uri, the Biblical artist, appears at the Bezalel School and takes Schatz on a tour of Israel in the year 2018.
Schatz died while on a fundraising tour in Denver, Colorado, in 1932.