Joseph McKenna was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 10, 1843. He attended St. Joseph's College and graduated from the Collegiate Institute at Benicia, California, in 1865. McKenna was admitted to the bar in 1865. Beginning in March 1866, he was twice elected district attorney for Solano County. He served in the lower house of the legislature in the 1875 and 1876 sessions. McKenna was elected to Congress for four terms, and resigned in 1892 to accept an appointment by President Benjamin Harrison as United States Circuit Judge. On March 5, 1897, he was appointed Attorney General of the United States by President McKinley, and served in that capacity until January 25, 1898. McKenna was appointed an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States to succeed Justice Field, and took his seat on January 26, 1898. He died on November 21, 1926, in Washington, D.C.
MacDonald was born in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. He studied art in Paris under Boulanger and Lefebvre. For many years he was a resident of Washington, D. C., where he painted many portraits, including the portrait of Attorney General McKenna.