Born in Norfolk in 1820, Thomas Baines was the second son of John Thomas Baines, a master mariner, and Mary Ann Watson. After being educated educated privately in King's Lynn, he was apprenticed to a painter of heraldic arms on coach panels and began sketching marine subjects. At the age of twenty-two, he left England for South Africa onboard the Olivia (captained by a family friend) and worked in Cape Town as a scenic and portrait artist, before becoming a marine and portrait painter in 1845 ( the present works are dated 1846). Baines became official war artist during the so-called 'Eighth Frontier War' for the British Army (1851-1852) and, in 1853,. accompanied David Livingstone along the Zambezi - he was one of the first white men to view Victoria Falls. Returning to South Africa in 1869, Baines led one of the first gold prospecting expeditions to Mashonaland in what was later to become Rhodesia.