Herbert Brownell, Jr. was born in Peru, Nebraska, on February 20, 1904. He earned an A.B. degree from the University of Nebraska in 1924, graduated from Yale University School of Law in 1927, and was admitted to the New York bar that same year. He practiced law with the firm of Root, Clark, Buckner, & Ballantine. He served as chairman of the Republican National Committee, and a member of the New York State Bar Association, the New York City Bar Association, and many professional and learned societies. Appointed Attorney General of the United States by President Eisenhower on January 21, 1953, he remained in office until November 8, 1957. After that he served as the United States member to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. He died May 1, 1996.
Johansen's portrait of Attorney General Brownell was painted in 1958. Johansen was born November 25, 1876 in Copenhagen. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. In addition to Brownell’s portrait, he also painted President Hoover’s White House portrait as well as a painting of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.