Dominic Serres was born in Auch, Gascony and was originally apprenticed to Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714-1789). He came to England as a prisoner of war in 1752, having been captured at sea. During his captivity he took up painting and it is believed he later trained in London under Charles Brooking (1723-1759). His early works were so successful that in 1768 he became a founding member of the Royal Academy and in 1780 he was retained by George II as the official naval artist to the Crown. His eldest son John Thomas Serres (1759-1825) also became a prolific marine artist.