Born to an inn-keeper in Surrey, Thomas Daniell went on to study painting at the Royal Academy, London, after odd jobs of bricklaying and painting coaches. Soon, gathering a fair reputation for himself as a painter and engraver, he travelled to India with his nephew, William Daniell, in 1785, under the aegis of the East India Company, to try his hand at the market for engravings and aquatints in the colony, drawn as much by the possibility of travel and adventure in exotic lands.
Over ten years, the Daniells travelled extensively across India, documenting diverse landscapes, architecture and ways of living; from Mughal monuments and snow-capped mountains in the north to the cave temples and hitherto unexplored jungles of the south.
Known for their striking realism, the Daniells made aquatints and oil paintings from the material and drawings they had amassed upon their return to England, brought together in their collection of aquatints issued over six volumes, Oriental Scenery, a publication that achieved great success. Thomas Daniell continued to exhibit at the Royal Academy and paint private commissions. His works, in no small measure, have contributed towards influencing European and colonial imagination of India.