Born in Hertford, he was apprenticed to an heraldic engraver in London in 1779 before studying at the Royal Academy, London schools. He shared rooms with Lawrence in Green Street 1790-4. Elected Associate Royal Academician, London 1792 and Royal Academician 1794, and exhibited at the Royal Academy, London 1784-1836 and British Institution, London 1806-34, principally fancies and historical subjects.
His Neo-Classical histories painted for Payne Knight and Thomas Hope between 1795 and 1811 achieved a certain popularity, but his most sustained activity was as an illustrator. He was Queen Victoria's first Drawing Master 1827-36. He died in London on 4 December 1836.