Marmaduke Cradock began his career as an apprentice to a house painter. He was self-taught and specialised in birds and animals. His work was highly regarded during his own lifetime, but may not have nurtured the business side of his career. According to Horace Walpole, 'He worked in general by the day, and for dealers who retailed his works; possessing that conscious dignity of talent which made him hate to be employed by men whose birth and fortune confined his fancy, and restrained his freedom.'
Soon after Cradock died the value of his work increased dramatically, with some selling for three or four times their original price. His Peacock and other birds in a landscape is held at Tate; it is one of only three known signed works.