George Henry Yewell was born in Havre De Grace, Maryland, in 1830. He and his widowed mother moved to Iowa City, Iowa, in 1841. Apprenticed to a tailor, Yewell's life changed when he earned statewide recognition for a political cartoon. State Supreme Court Judge Charles Mason recognized the young man's talent and befriended Yewell. With the help of some other prominent Iowans, he arranged for Yewell to study at the Academy of Design in New York. There Yewell met his second mentor, the portrait painter and teacher, Thomas Hicks. In 1856, Judge Mason again intervened, this time sending Yewell to study in Paris, France, with Thomas Couture. Paris was Yewell's home until the outbreak of the Civil War brought him back to the States. He never again lived in Iowa City, but visited the area regularly, and in 1863 returned to marry a local woman, Mary Coast. They returned to Europe in 1867, where they remained for the next eleven years. Yewell died on September 26, 1923, at Lake George, New York. At the time of his death he was the oldest member of the National Academy of Art. Some of Yewell's finest works are those related to Iowa. He painted a number of portraits of famous Iowans of the day, including Governor Samuel Kirkwood. His pencil drawings and sketches are perhaps the earliest existing drawings made of the Iowa City area. Although Yewell remains a minor artist in any historical sense, his legacy to Iowans is significant.