While principally remembered for his achievements as a sporting artist, John Wootton was a leading figure in the establishment of a classical landscape tradition in Britain, inspired by the classical landscapes of Gaspar Dughet and Claude Lorrain. As George Vertue noted:
'Mr J. Wotton [sic] by his assiduous application & the prudent management of his affairs raisd his reputation & fortune to a great height being well esteemed for his skill in landskip paintings amongst the professors of art & in great vogue & favour with many persons of ye greatest quality'.
Little is known of his family, although as a young boy he may have served as a page to Lady Anne Somerset, daughter of the Duke of Beaufort, on her marriage to Thomas, later 2nd Earl of Coventry in 1690. From these families he appears to have received encouragement to take up painting, and perhaps also the introduction to his master, the Dutch painter Jan Wyck (1652-1700). Wootton was in London by 1706, and was a founder member of the Academy of Painting and Drawing in 1711. By 1717 he had been elected a steward of the Virtuosi Club of St Luke's. Wootton's many patrons included King George II, Frederick, Prince of Wales, Sir Robert Walpole, and many of the most prominent members of the aristocracy.