Robert Clifford Rishell was a graduate of the California College of Arts and Crafts, a member of the Society of Western Artists and studied under Xavier Martinez. Rishell organized the first showing of the Society of Western Artists held in California in 1949. He was instrumental in starting the Oakland Museum, and remained an active participant. He painted several of the background dioramas in the Natural Science area of the museum and the museum owns several of his paintings that go on display periodically. In 1974, Rishell was commissioned by the State of California to paint the official gubernatorial portrait of Governor Ronald Reagan, which is currently on display at the California State Capitol Museum in Sacramento.