James Sant studied under John Varley, Augustus Wall Calcott and at the Royal Academy schools between 1840 and 1844. In 1870, he painted HRH Prince Leopold and HRH the Princess Beatrice by command of Queen Victoria and two years later the group portrait Her Majesty the Queen, with her Grandchildren, the Princes Albert, Victor and George, and Princess Victoria of Wales. He was appointed Principal Painter in Ordinary to Her Majesty in 1871. He exhibited prolifically at the Royal Academy between 1840 and 1893, contributing no less than two hundred and forty-seven paintings. He established a remarkably successful society practice and was appointed CVO in 1914.