James Forrester studied under Robert West at the Dublin Society's school where he received premiums in 1747 and 1750 and won the annual drawing competition in 1752. He travelled to Rome in 1755, remaining there until his death in 1776. In Rome he practised with some success as a landscape painter and found a ready market for his pictures among British travellers. Among his patrons were William, 2nd Earl Fitzwilliam, who purchased two moonlit scenes in 1767 (sold in these rooms, 19 july 1985, as lots 38 and 39), the Duke of Gloucester, John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, Lord Arundell, William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne and the Hon. John Dawson, later Earl of Portarlington.