Richard Morell Staigg tried various trades before settling on miniature painting. He did ornamental and sign painting for different masters in England and Rhode Island, before training as a miniaturist with Jane Stuart and Washington Allston. He was inspired by Edward Greene Malbone, an artist who had died decades before. Staigg spent a great deal of time studying Malbone’s technique and making copies of his miniatures. He imitated Malbone’s delicate brushwork and use of light colors, before establishing his own style with pastel flesh tones and rich colored backgrounds and clothing. Staigg created the appearance of light bouncing off of his subject’s hair by allowing small portions of the ivory to show through to the surface.