Toby Rosenthal was born in New Haven, Connecticut to imigrant parents. The famlily moved to San Francisco in 1855. Because of his interest in the Arts his father sent him to Louis Bacon, a French sculptor, who had a drawing school on California Street. Rosenthal's training here consisted of copying magazine illustrations of famous paintings. Outgrowing this method he enrolled with Fortunato Arriola, a Mexican portrait and landscape painter, who was so impressed he gave him free lessons. In 1865, Rosenthal went to Munich, and enrolled in the Royal Academy where he was exposed to the various movements in art. In 1871, he returned to San Francisco and was the center of much attention and received numerous commissions. After a while the social demands of an artist's life in San Fransisco had lost it's shine and Rosenthal returned to Munich, where he remained until his death in 1871.