Marshall Claxton was born in Bolton in 1813, the son of a Wesleyan minister.
He studied at the schools of the Royal Academy in London, and later travelled to Australia and India.
Predictably, many of his works are of Methodist and religious subjects, although historical scenes were also favoured by him. This particular picture was painted shortly after his return from Australia, where he had attempted to set up a School of Art. It may have been his travels which prompted this particular subject matter, or it may have been the Victorian preoccupation with disaster at sea.
Unlike other artists, Claxton concentrates on the human element of the scene, rather than the elements or natural forces. In 1862 the painting was exhibited at the Suffolk Street galleries of the Royal Society of British Artists under the title ‘The Life Boat, the Life Boat, Saved!’.