Dominic Serres, marine painter and nephew of the Archbishop of Rheims, was born in Auch, Gascony. He studied at the English Benedictine school at Douai but is thought to have run away and served with the Spanish fleet, before being captured and sent to England as a prisoner of war in c.1750. After his release, he painted views of country houses. In the late 1750s he moved to London, where he was a pupil of marine painter Charles Brooking. He established a reputation for battle scenes during the Seven Years War and the War of American Independence. In 1768, he was one of the founder members of the Royal Academy and in 1780 he was made marine painter to George III. He became librarian of the Royal Academy in 1792, shortly before his death.
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