John Griggs was born in Newton, New Jersey, on July 10, 1849. He prepared for college in Newton, graduated from Lafayette College in 1868, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1871. He practiced law in Paterson, New Jersey. Griggs was a member of the General Assembly of New Jersey in 1876 and 1877. Elected State senator for Passaic in 1882, he was reelected in 1885. He served as president of the New Jersey Senate in 1886, and was elected Governor of New Jersey in November 1895. He resigned the Governorship to accept President McKinley's appointment of Attorney General of the United States, and served in that position from January 25, 1898 until March 29, 1901. He was one of the first members appointed to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, and served from 1901 to 1912. Griggs died on November 28, 1927, in Paterson, New Jersey.
Vonnoh was born in Hartford, Connecticut. He was an instructor at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, and was a member of many art groups including the National Academy. His portraits and landscapes were widely exhibited throughout the United States and Europe, and won many awards. His portrait of Attorney General Griggs was painted in 1901.