Jeremiah Gurney was born in New York State and moved to New York City to work in the jewelry trade. He was among the earliest of the city's residents to learn the daguerreotype process and in 1840 opened one of the first portrait galleries on Broadway. Blessed with remarkable technical skills, Gurney created tonally delicate, startlingly three-dimensional portraits such as this study of two sisters. His clientele were New York's cultural elite, not the political and entertainment world catered to by his more illustrious colleague, Mathew B. Brady. Gurney effortlessly established himself, not by soliciting portraits of public figures but simply by producing the finest daguerreotypes in Gotham.