The son of a wealthy tobacco merchant, Nicola Marschall left Germany for the United States in 1849, arriving in New Orleans and settling at Mobile. Shortly thereafter, Marschall moved to Marion, Alabama, where he set up a studio and established himself as a leading portraitist. In 1851, he joined the faculty of the Marion Female Institute as an instructor of art and language. In 1857, Marschall returned to Europe, and over the next two years studied painting in Düsseldorf, Munich, Rome, and Paris, before returning to Marion in 1859. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Marschall provided designs for the Confederate flag and military uniform, and is therefore often called the Artist of the Confederacy.
Marschall painted many of Marion’s leading citizens, including Edward Henry Bernhard (1819-1899), a prosperous merchant. In 1854, Bernhard married Eugenia Howard Lockhart (1832-1908), a member of Judson College’s first graduating class in 1842. Eugenia’s father John Lockhart served on the school’s first board of trustees, and her wedding ceremony was performed by Dr. Milo P. Jewett (1808-1882), Judson’s founder and first president.