Charles Grafly began working with stone at the age of seventeen when he apprenticed with Struthers Stoneyard in his native Philadelphia. A few years later, he enrolled in classes with Thomas Eakins at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In 1888, Grafly went to Paris, where he studied sculpture at the Acadmie Julian with Henri-Michel Chapu, with whom he would later work on a piece for the Paris International Exposition. When he returned to Philadelphia, he accepted a position to teach modeling at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He continued to teach there and at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston until his death in 1929.