Born in Ruabon, North Wales. He studied under Benjamin West in London and entered the Royal Academy, London Schools in 1769. He visited Rome with Wright of Derby in 1773-5, apparently intent on becoming a history painter, but by 1777 he was painting portraits in Cambridge and by 1780 he had evolved his most characteristic portrait manner, the half-length oval in black chalk and stump with light washes of colour.
He exhibited portraits and a number of fancy subjects at the Royal Academy, London 1769-1819, and was elected Associate Royal Academician, London 1795. He practised in the west country 1806-8 and is recorded at Chester in 1818-19. He died at Wrexham on 24 December 1824.