A self-taught artist of the Liverpool School, John Hughes was born in that seafaring town in 1806. He was a very competent marine painter, the majority of whose works were done for export to America. It is interesting to note that of all the known works by John Hughes only a very few survive in his native England.
It is evident that Hughes acquired a sizeable reputation with American sea captains. He developed particularly good contacts with the visiting American ships and created his own quayside business for commissions. His paintings also generated many favorable reviews in the local Liverpool press, adding to his growing reputation.
Hughes early paintings show the influence of Robert Salmon and Samuel Walters. It was obvious that as an artist he studied the work of his local contemporaries as often as possible. As his career developed it became apparent that he was no mere copyist, but could assimilate the contributions of other artists into his own distinct and recognizable style.