Jeremiah Sullivan Black was born in The Glades, Pennsylvania, on January 10, 1810, received a common school education, read law with Chauncey Forward and was admitted to the bar on December 3, 1830. In April 1842, he was made president judge of the court of common pleas of his district, a post he held for nine years. Black was elected chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 1851, and reelected in 1854. President Buchanan appointed Black Attorney General of the United States on March 6, 1857. In 1860 he was appointed Secretary of State, and in 1861 to the Supreme Court of the United States, but was not confirmed. He was, however, appointed Supreme Court Reporter in December 1861 and prepared Black's Reports, Volumes I and II. He died in York, Pennsylvania, on August 19, 1883.
Winner was born in Philadelphia and worked there from 1836 probably until his death in 1883. He was a portrait and genre painter and active in the Board of Control of the Artists' Fund Society. His work was recognized during his lifetime and was exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Boston Athenaeum and the National Academy.Winner's portrait of Attorney General Black was painted in 1872.