The son of portraitist Ralph Earl, Ralph E.W. Earl probably received his initial instruction from his father. While studying abroad, the younger Earl gained exposure to the European tradition of history painting: the depiction of events recorded in history, literature or the Bible. Earl returned to the United States in 1815 to begin an ambitious project about the Battle of New Orleans. Needing Jackson’s portrait for his history painting, Earl met the general and cultivated a friendship with him during a visit to Jackson’s Tennessee home in 1817. Earl became a part of the family when he married the niece of Jackson’s wife in 1819. Ralph E. W. Earl was “court painter” during Jackson’s eight years in the White House (1829-1837). In this capacity Earl produced numerous likenesses of the seventh president, standing and seated, full-size and half-length. These portraits were often acquired by Jackson’s supporters as tokens of loyalty.