A Victorian painter who impacted several artistic fields and broadened the public's perceptions of fine art, Stanfield was a consummate professional. The fifth child of a mariner who became a theater performer, his father's occupations became the path for Clarkson's life work. A friendly associate of Joseph Mallord William Turner, Charles Dickens and notable artisans of his time, Stanfield was a highly regarded scene painter for the London theaters. His oils on canvas earned him patrons throughout society, including Queen Victoria, and he became a royal academician in 1832.
Stanfield knew the sea. In 1808 he persuaded his father to let him serve aboard a collier, and by 1812 he was aboard the brig ALEXANDER of London and soon after impressed into naval service, serving on H.M.S. Namur. After four years, notice of his artistic talents drew him ashore. He did however cruise to china in 1815, coming home with a sketch book and a pet monkey.
Work on shore found him painting theater scenery, and he gained such acclaim within a decade that his name held its own fame. His ‘easel paintings' were highly desirable, and earned him comfortable wealth. Reputed to be extremely fast with his brushes, his output is considered to be as delicate and well-defined as any of his contemporaries. He attracts admirers for his landscapes and marines, which draw upon his wide travels and personal experiences.