Themistokles von Eckebrechter was born in Greece into a wealthy German-Italian family who traveled a lot. In 1843, the family returned temporarily to Berlin. There, the young Themistokles attended the Anglo-American school. If he accompanied his father on his travels, he was educated by private tutors. From a young age Von Eckenbrecher was inspired by ships, which later became a recurrent motif in his work.
When Von Eckenbrecher told his parents his wish of becoming a painter, they were supportive and arranged multiple tutors in the different cities they lived in. In Düsseldorf he was the apprentice of Oswald Achenbach (German, 1827-1905) from whom he learned much about light, atmosphere and the use of bright colors. Von Eckenbrecher traveled a lot as an adult and used his travels as inspiration for his paintings. He traveled to Egypt, the Philippines, Africa, but traveled also through Europe.