In 1853 John Brett became a student in the Royal Academy Schools. An avid reader of Ruskin's work, he set off for Switzerland in 1856 and again in 1858. In the 1860s he visited Italy, notably Florence and Naples. His most successful paintings were panoramic views of the sea, such as 'British Channel seen from the Dorsetshire Cliffs' (1871, London, Tate Gallery) and 'Britannia's Realm' (1880, London, Tate Gallery), see D. Cordingly in 'Dictionary of Art', London 1996, vol. 4, p. 756-757.