Mayer, a Baltimore painter, trained with the local artists Ernst Fischer and Alfred Jacob Miller before moving to Paris in 1864-69 to enroll in the studio of Charles Gleyre, the academic master who included among his pupils the impressionists Monet, Sisley, Bazille, and Renoir. Mayer seems to have been close to William T. Walters as a fellow member of the Allston Association, and as the Maryland Historical Societies assistant librarian for the Gallery of Fine Arts. Beginning in 1848 the Historical Society presented annual exhibitions of Old Master paintings and contemporary works drawn from local collections. Rhinehart was another artist who was on personal terms with William T. Walters and was also from Maryland. He executed portraits of William, his wife, Ellen, and his daughter, Jennie. This portrait therefore brought together two men from William's close circle of artistic friends.