Charles Devens was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, on April 4, 1820. He graduated from Harvard in 1838, studied law at Cambridge, and practiced from 1841 to 1849. He was State senator in 1848 and 1849. From 1849 until 1853 he served as United States marshal for the District of Massachusetts. Then in 1854 he resumed the practice of law in Worcester. Devens served during the Civil War as major of an independent battalion of rifles. He also served as colonel of the 15th Massachusetts Volunteers, as brigadier general and brevet major general, and was wounded at the battles of Fair Oaks and Chancellorsville. Mustered out in 1866, he resumed the practice of his profession. In April 1867, Devens was appointed justice of the superior court of the State and in 1873 a justice of the State supreme court. On March 12, 1877, he was appointed Attorney General of the United States by President Hayes. In 1881 Devens was reappointed justice of the supreme court of Massachusetts. He died in Boston on January 7, 1891.
Vinton was born in Bangor, Maine, and died in Boston, Massachusetts. He studied in Europe. Many statesmen, jurists, and professional men were among his sitters. His works are now in the collections at Bowdoin College and the Worcester Art Museum. His portrait of Attorney General Devens was painted in 1884.