Nathan Clifford was born in Rummey, New Hampshire, on August 18, 1803. He studied at the Academy at Haverhill, New Hampshire, and afterwards at the Hampton Literary Institution. After graduation, he read law in his hometown and was admitted to the bar in 1827. Clifford settled in York County, Maine, was a member of the Maine Legislature from 1830 to 1834, State attorney general from 1834 to 1838 and served in Congress for two terms. President Polk appointed him Attorney General of the United States on October 17, 1846. In 1848 Clifford was sent to Mexico as commissioner to arrange the treaty with Mexico by which California was ceded to the United States. In 1857 he was nominated to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court by President Buchanan and served until his death. He died in Cornish, Maine, on July 25, 1881.
Healy was born in Boston where he began his artistic career at seventeen. He became internationally known and was patronized by the royal families of England and France. From 1844 to 1867, Healy filled innumerable commissions in the District of Columbia and along the eastern seaboard. After the Civil War he traveled to Europe, but returned finally to the United States in 1892 and died in Chicago two years later. He was one of the most successful 19th century portrait painters and was the subject of three books, including his own, Reminiscences of a Portrait Painter . Healy painted Attorney General Clifford in 1876.