Alfred Hartley (1855-1933) studied at the Royal College of Art and Westminster School of Art. In his early career he was renowned for his landscapes and portraits, and his sitters included Lord Randolf Churchill, father of Winston Churchill, and Lord Asquith. However he became best known as a master in the art of etching and aquatint, developing a considerable international reputation, and a number of students came to study under him.
Hartley and his wife Nora, also an artist, moved to St Ives in 1904, where he founded the New Print Society. He was very skilled at creating evocative atmospheric effects, and his clever use of reflections and the contrast between light and dark masses help bring his depictions of St Ives harbour and the fishing fleet to life.