Henry Inman was born near Utica, New York. After moving to New York City in 1812, he was accepted for a seven-year apprenticeship by the portrait painter John Wesley Jarvis. Jarvis helped train Inman and prepared him to begin his own career. Inman painted portraits, genre scenes, and occasionally made book illustrations. In addition, he also embarked upon the major task of copying 100 portraits of Native Americans by Charles Bird King for lithographic reproductions and a touring exhibition.