George Elgar Hicks initially studied to be a doctor, but changed his career to painting, entering the R.A. Schools in 1844. He exhibited at the R.A. from 1848. In 1859 he achieved fame for his Dividend Day at the Bank, a fame that led him to attempt more scenes of contemporary life, following the colourful style of Frith. Later in life he painted more portraits, as well as biblical and historical genre. Although he was much in demand as a society portrait painter, it is his genre scenes of the 1860s, such as the present lot, that show his real charm, quality and natural ability as a painter.
Hicks received fulsome praise in the Art Journal of 1 June 1863, (p. 111), the year before Waiting for the boats was painted: 'Mr Hicks is a disciple in the Frith school. He glides smoothly over the surface of society; he depicts character with a point seasoned often by satire; and for execution no man is more brilliant.'