Marine painter William Formby Halsall was born in Kirkdale, England, in 1841. He was educated in Boston, then worked as a sailor for seven years from 1852-1859. His study of fresco painting in 1860 with William E. Norton, of Boston, was interrupted by the Civil War and his enlistment in the United States Navy. Following two years’ service, he resumed fresco work, but soon changed to marine painting, which he studied for eight years, from 1862-1870, at the Lowell Institute, in Boston.