Portrait painter, Jacob Eichholtz was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1776, the son of Pennsylvania German tavern keepers. He trained as a copper and tinsmith, and gained success in this trade, but chose instead to become an artist. When portraitist Thomas Sully came to Lancaster in 1809 to work on commissioned portraits, Eichholtz provided him with studio space. This afforded Eichholtz, the novice painter, first-hand experience of a master at work. Sully and Eichholtz subsequently became friends, with Sully encouraging Eichholtz’s artistic aspirations. Having completed his first important commission, a portrait of Pennsylvania State Representative Nicholas Biddle, Eichholtz traveled to Boston in 1812 with the painting as a means of introduction to the studio of Gilbert Stuart. The portrait earned Eichholtz a few weeks’ instruction from Stuart, who together with Charles Wilson Peale and Thomas Sully was a dominant talent in early nineteenth-century portrait painting. Eichholtz returned to Lancaster, and with no further formal art training, left metalworking behind to embark full-time on a career as an artist. Eichholtz managed to develop into one of America’s premier portrait artists, eventually enjoying financial success and peer respect. Eichholtz was known in his day as a “native genius.” The artist worked mainly in the Middle Atlantic region, and focused his attention, not on the elite of society as did Stuart and Sully, but rather on individuals of the rising middle class, exemplified in this dignified portrait of a gentleman. Between 1810 and his death in 1842, he produced more than 800 paintings.