In 1859, Alphonse Spring’s father sent him to St. Petersburg, in order that he might be educated in commerce. Discovering that he was more interested in the arts, Spring joined classes at the art school, led by Stieglitz, within a year. He continued his education at the Academy of Fine Arts until 1870. After completing his studies, Spring promptly moved to Munich where he attended the Munich Academy under Wilhelm von Diez. In 1874, he established his own studio where he created many of his celebrated genre paintings.
As a member of the Diez-school of painters, Spring painted lively interior scenes of rural family life, children at play or in a classroom, and townsfolk gathered for a Sunday service. Everyday domestic scenes were popular nineteenth century images, intriguing audiences by giving them a glimpse at a life, as if they were viewing it through a keyhole. This exemplified in At the Spinning Wheel, a highly detailed interior scene where the audience watches as a grandmother teaches her granddaughter the craft. The young girl looks on intently as her teacher demonstrates the workings of the spinning wheel. The viewer is given the impression of a moment frozen in time.