George Edwin Bissell was the son of a marble quarryman, and a descendant of Huguenots. He was educated in Connecticut with the hope of attending college, but his plans were interrupted by the onset of the Civil War, when he enlisted in a regiment of the Connecticut volunteers. After the war, Bissell went to work with his father and brother in New York, where he began modeling in clay. He decided to pursue sculpture in 1875 and traveled to Europe to study in France and at the American Academy in Rome. After he returned to the United States he won many commissions, especially of historical figures from the early years of America’s independence. The artist was one of the first members of the National Sculpture Society and a mentor to many young sculptors, who referred to him as “Père Bissell.