This daguerreotype portrait of John Brockenbrough is one of twenty-seven daguerreotypes that were set into a single frame and titled "James River and Kanawha Company Directors and Employees." Joseph C. Cabell, the president of the James River and Kanawha Company from 1835 to 1846, probably commissioned these portraits.
Brockenbrough, a trained doctor, did not practice medicine. Instead, he became a successful civic leader and businessman in Richmond, serving as president of the Bank of Virginia, and as a director of the canal. His large residence in Richmond later became the Executive Mansion of the Confederate States of America and served as the official home of President Jefferson Davis and his family during the Civil War.