Born in Surrey in 1769, William Daniell trained with his uncle, landscape artist Thomas Daniell, whom he accompanied to a rapidly expanding Calcutta 1784. The financial success of the engravings produced during this first trip encouraged the Daniells to continue their enterprise and travels in India for several years, and led to the production of a lavish illustrated volume, Oriental Scenery. Published in six parts over the period 1795–1808, this work enjoyed enormous success and influence in shaping Britain’s artistic and cultural vision of India.
Daniell’s greatest achievement, however, was his depiction not of the marvels of the East, but A Voyage Round Great Britain, charting the scenery and population of his home country. Daniells travelled extensively around the British Isles from 1813 to 1823, publishing his master work in eight volumes between 1814 and 1825. The quality of the paintings produced undoubtedly helped Daniell to beat his contemporary John Constable at the ballot box to be elected a member of the Royal Academy in February 1822.
Daniell continued to work until his death in London in 1837. His work is held in the collections of numerous museums worldwide, including the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Academy of Arts, the National Maritime Museum, the Courtauld Institute of Art, the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, the National Museums and Galleries of Wales, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the Dallas Museum of Art.