He was born in London of American parents. He married Harriet Stone in 1825.
He studied under Benjamin West and Washington Allston at the Royal Academy of Art, London. He was apprenticed to booksellers Bradford and Inskeep, Philadelphia, from 1808 to 1811. He was teacher of drawing at the USMA, West Point, NY from 1831 to 1832. He spent most of his life in London and became Professor of Painting at the Royal Academy of Arts. He drew most of his subjects from literary sources. JW attended his lectures in the Royal Academy some time before 20 March 1849. His publications included Memoirs of the Life of John Constable (1843); Autobiographical Recollections (1860).
Who Was Who in America, p. 312; Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; Fleming, Gordon H., The Young Whistler, London, 1978, pp. 68-73; Wood, Christopher, The Dictionary of Victorian Artists, 2nd ed., revised, Woodbridge, 1978; The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, http://www.groveart.com (accessed 2004).