The son of General Thomas Pinckney, Pinckney spent part of his childhood in London while his father was ambassador. The Society of Cincinnati paid him the following tribute: "Inheriting family distinction and wealth, Col. Pinckney was early in life placed in a situation in society which required him to support the station of a Carolina gentleman, and by his courteous manners and generous hospitality, he adorned that elevated and dignified station." A planter, he was interested in scientific agriculture and was president of the Pendleton, SC, Farmers Society. Pinckney had his portrait painted during December, 1801 - January, 1802. While his portrait and that of his wife Eliza are thought of as a pair, they were not designed to be so; his figure is on a smaller scale, and they have different types of backgrounds. Malbone has dramatically accented his portrait with the red of Pinckney's waistcoat.