From 1811 to 1813, he studied at the Berlin University of the Arts.
He quit school to join the Black Hussars of Ludwig Adolf Wilhelm von Lützow and fight in the War of Liberation. He retired with a commission. His first success came in 1816, with a portrait of King Friedrich Wilhelm III. In 1817/18, he took a trip to Italy, visiting Rome, Florence, Venice and Bologna.
Following his wife"s death in 1821, after only two years of marriage, he began travelling more extensively, ending in Rome where he lived until 1830 at the Palazzo Caffarelli.
He spent 1831 in England, where he painted a portrait of Queen Adelaide that was later made into an engraving by Samuel William Reynolds. He is probably best known for his portrait of Hans Christian Andersen, which is on display at the Andersen Museum in Odense.
Another familiar work is his portrait of Gabriele von Bülow, Wilhelm von Humboldt"s daughter. He was also a significant art collector, possessing a large selection of Italian paintings and lithographs.
Virtually all of his miniatures are still privately owned.