Samuel Walters was born in London on 1st November, 1811. His father Miles (1773-1855) was a master tradesman and marine artist who originated from Ilfracombe in North Devon. Young Samuel’s familiarity with his father’s gilding and framing business and its proximity to the bustling docks had a natural influence on Samuel, and he soon became an apprentice to him.
Miles and Samuel left London for the port of Liverpool about 1826, spending over a year in Bristol on the way. In 1827 they collaborated on their first marine painting, one of approximately forty paintings they worked on together over the next six years until Miles retired from art in the mid 1830’s.
Shortly after arriving in Liverpool Samuel enrolled at the Liverpool Mechanics School of Arts and in November 1831 he joined the Royal Institution, containing the Liverpool Academy Schools. The previous year he had exhibited his first work at the Academy, entitled “Dutch Boats in a Fresh Breeze”. This was to be the first of 99 paintings shown at the Academy over the next 35 years, and on 7th November, 1837 he was made an Associate Member. By now a well established marine artist, on 12th August, 1845 Walters suddenly resigned from the Academy and returned to London. He was an admirer of William John Huggins, marine painter to William IV, and after Huggins died on 19th May that year, Walters presumably thought he could take up Huggins’ mantle; he had the same studio as Huggins at 105 Leadenhall Street, where the well known engraver Edward Duncan also worked.
The previous year Walters had exhibited his first two paintings at London’s Royal Academy However, his stay in London was short lived, and in 1847 he returned to Liverpool, where he continued to enjoy as much success as when he had left. Indeed such was his popularity that he was already producing a number of engravings of his originals, before turning later to lithographs.
Walters had a considerable influence on other important Liverpool marine artists including Duncan McFarlane, Francis Hustwick, William G.Yorke, and his son William H.Yorke. The leading Liverpool marine artist for half a century, Walters died in Liverpool on 5th March, 1882. Examples of his work are in most major marine museums throughout the world.