After an apprenticeship with miniaturist Samuel Collins in Bath, Humphry set up his own practice in London in 1763, where he soon established a large circle of fashionable clients. In 1772 he sustained serious damage to his eyesight in a riding accident, after which he tried to give up miniatures and work on a larger scale instead. Despite his intentions to study the old masters during a four-year trip to Italy, he was never very successful as an oil painter and he continued to spend most of his time working as a miniaturist. In a search for more lucrative markets he spent two years in India, but returned to Britain disappointed. His sight rapidly deteriorating, Humphry took up drawing in pastels, but he had almost completely lost his vision by the end of the 1790s.