Although born in England, Bough became one of the most influential figures in the development of nineteenth-century Scottish landscape painting. A largely self-taught artist, he spent the early part of his career in Manchester and Glasgow painting scenes for theatrical sets. Bough later dedicated himself to landscape painting, and became adept at illustrating the fleeting effects of weather. This is especially clear in his paintings of Cadzow Forest in South Lanarkshire. He settled in Edinburgh in 1855, and was elected a member of the Royal Scottish Academy the following year. Bough enjoyed tremendous popularity as an artist. His views of rivers and ports of the 1850s and 1860s show his masterful combination of realism and expressive colouring to capture natural effects.