Biography: Oertel studied art in Nuremberg and Munich and was employed as an engraver until 1848, when he moved to the United States. Settling in New Jersey, he engraved plates for banknotes and painted portraits. In 1857 he was elected to the National Academy of Design in New York. In the 1860s he moved to Rhode Island and gained attention for his complex, multi-figure history paintings, including Biblical subjects and paintings based on his travels with the Army of Virginia under General Burnside. He became a deacon in the Episcopal church in 1865 and later a presbyter. Around this time Oertel devoted himself to Christian subjects, producing many paintings that he presented to churches.