Born in Princeton, Massachusetts in 1761, Savage began his career as a portrait miniaturist in Boston by 1785. In 1789, Savage went to New York City, where he painted portaits of George Washington and remained until 1791 when he travelled to England. Savage returned to the United States in 1793, was married in Boston in 1794, and moved to Philadelphia by 1795 where he worked asa a portrait miniaturist, painter, engraver, and print seller. During this time he also operated a picture gallery and museum. Between 1801 and 1810, Savage ran the Columbian Gallery in New Yok City, one of the principle exhibition venues of the city at that time. He moved to Boston shortly before his death in 1812.