Rudolf von Gneist was one of the most renowned German jurists of his time. From 1844, he was professor of public law in Berlin. Two years earlier, he gave private lessons to Hirobumi Itō, Japan's first prime minister, during his trip to Europe. Gneist was also a member of the Prussian Parliament and later a member of the Reichstag. In 1867, he rose to the leadership of the National Liberal Party. In 1888, he was granted noble status.
Portrait of Heinrich Rudolf Friedrich Hermann von Gneist (1816–1895), 1897, unknown artist; image source: Jahrbuch der Berliner Morgenzeitung, calendar 1897, scan: Goerdten, Wikimedia Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Heinrich_Rudolf_Hermann_Friedrich_von_Gneist.jpg?uselang=de, public domain.