David Dalhoff Neal achieved international fame as a history painter working in Munich, Germany. At age fourteen he left his home for New Orleans and subsequently settled in San Francisco, where he worked as a wood engraver. Sent in 1861 to Munich by a patron, he commenced his artistic education by entering the antique class at the Royal Academy. In 1864 he began to study under Professor Max Emmanuel Ainmiller (1808-1879), a painter of architectural interiors, whose daughter Neal had married. Neal also became known for his paintings of church interiors. From 1869 to 1876 Neal studied with Karl von Piloty (1826-1886). At this time he had his first successes with the historical paintings for which he was to become best known. As one of the first Americans to achieve prominence in Munich, Neal was influential as a model and friend to the many who came to study there in the 1870s. For a time he had his own school. Neal was in the United States in 1871-72 and then visited frequently after 1884, for portraiture occupied more of his time in later life.
Samuel C. W. Benjamin, Our American Artists (1879; reprint, New York: Garland, 1977), pp. 51-54 § John R. Tait, "David Neal," Magazine of Art 9 (1885-86): 95-101 § Friederich Pecht, Geschichte der Münchener Kunst im neunzehnten Jahrhundert (Munich: Verlagsanstalt für Kunst und Wissenschaft, 1888), pp. 386-88 § Dayton Art Institute and others, American Expatriate Painters of the Late Nineteenth Century, exh. cat., 1976, text by Michael Quick, pp. 119, 154-55, with bibliography § Sacramento, Calif., E. B. Crocker Art Gallery, Munich and American Realism in the Nineteenth Century, exh. cat., 1978, with essays by Michael Quick and Eberhard Ruhmer, bibliography.