William Ouless was born in St. Helier, Jersey. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools (1865-9) and exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1869. He was made an A.R.A. in 1877 and R.A. in 1881. Ouless established a tremendously successful portrait practice which encompassed late Victorian and Edwardian society. His sitters included The Prince of Wales as Commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron and Cardinal Manning.