Naples was a frequent port of call for the Royal Navy during the nineteenth century following the close alliance forged by Lord Nelson during the Napoleonic Wars. It was to Naples that Nelson took his fleet after the Battle of the Nile and where he was received in triumph as a saviour from Bonaparte. Many officers of the fleet made friendships there and it was Nelson who subsequently evacuated the Royal Family, together with many of the nobility, to safety in order to escape a French attack in December 1798. When Nelson was able to restore King Ferdinand to his throne the next year, Neapolitan admiration for British seapower was unbounded and the Royal Navy was ever afterwards assured of a warm welcome whenever a ship or squadron anchored in the Bay of Naples.
J.T. Serres was born in London in 1759 and was the eldest son of Dominic Serres, the Elder. On his father's death in 1793 he succeeded him in his appointment as marine painter to King George III and to H.R.H The Duke of Clarence. In 1800 he became Marine Draughtsman of the Admiralty.