William John Huggins served with the East India Company as a steward and assistant to the purser aboard the ‘Perseverance’ which journeyed to Bombay and China from 1812-1814. During this voyage he made many drawings of ships and landscapes in China and elsewhere. He then set up as a marine painter attached to the EIC specialising in ship portraiture.
Huggins exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1817 until the end of his life, and from 1825 onwards at the British Institution. He was made Marine Painter to King George IV and William IV- for the latter painting three large pictures of the Battle of Trafalgar.