Justus Dalee was born in 1793, in Pittstown, New York to James Waterman Da Lee and Anstis Kinnicutt. In 1816, Justus Dalee married Mary Flower in Washington County, New York. City directories list the artist as living in Troy, New York in the 1830's. By 1840, he was producing portraits in both Rochester and Buffalo, New York, where he was listed as a resident in the 1847-48 Commerical Advertiser Directory as a "portrait painter" (Paul S. D'Ambrosio, Folk Art's Many Faces, (New York, 1987), pp. 56-57).
This group of portraits features a father, mother and two children all rendered in profile, and is most likely a work dating to the 1840's. The popularity of daguerreotypes during that period must have influenced Dalee's work for he soon began executing portraits in profile only and presented in oval spandrels, bearing some resemblance to the new photographic forms.