Jacob Marling was born in 1774. His artistic career as a painter spanned 38 years, from 1795 to 1833. Marling trained under James Cox (1751-1834), an eccentric English-born artist, for seven years in Philadelphia. Around May of 1795, Marling started teaching drawing and painting to women one day a week in Petersburg, Virginia. Marling also advertised his services as a miniature, portrait, and landscape painter. While teaching, he met his soon-to-be wife, Louisa Simmon of Southampton County, Virginia. They married in 1805. Around 1812, the Marling family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where Marling continued to teach art courses to women, and complete portrait commissions.