He was the most productive and experienced watercolor painter in 19th-century German-speaking Europe. He studied with his father, Jacob Alt (1789-1872), a landscape painter and watercolor painter, who was one of the first in Austria to use the new lithography technique.
From the age of six Rudolf accompanied his father on his travels, and, together with other children of Alt, he copied the drawings of his father.
During his student days at the Academy of Art in Vienna (1825–32), Rudolph often joined his father on his trips and collaborated fruitfully in his studio.
During these frequent travels, he painted local views, landscapes and interiors, often ordered by local aristocrats. In 1832 he won a prize at the Academy, which at the same time freed him from military service and gave rise to his independent activity. In the same year, he painted his first oil painting.
In 1833, he and his father traveled to northern Italy. Venice made a huge impression on him. Two years later he went to Rome and Naples. Many of its views and landscapes of Italy, as well as landscapes and views of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, were intended for use in exhibitions and auctions held by the Austrian Herz-Duke (later Emperor) Ferdinand. Von Alt continued to receive such official orders until 1848.