Westall was apprenticed to engraver John Thomson in 1779 and later took up painting and exhibited his first portrait drawing at the Royal Academy in 1784. In 1785 he became a student at the Royal Academy Schools, an associate in 1792, and Royal Academician in 1794. He exhibited over 300 works at the Royal Academy and 70 at the British Institution. Westall also specialised in book illustration and was employed by publishers John Boydell, Thomas Macklin and Robert Bowyer. As a water-colourist, Westall was particularly noted for his unusually rich colour effects. For the last nine years of his life he was a drawing master to the future Queen Victoria.
The Fishing Party is best known now through the engravings that were produced in the 1790s of the painting which is now lost. The delicate and charming version of the picture presented here captures well the style of Westall and the rich colouring apparent in his oil paintings.