Little is known about the early life of Charles Steuart, but his first recorded work was exhibited at the Free Society in London in 1762. A Scottish painter of landscapes, Steuart was probably a pupil of James Norie at the same time as Alexander Runciman and James Cumming. Various important patrons employed Steuart including the 3rd Duke of Atholl, the Earl of Bute and the Earl of Breadalbane at Taymouth. The 3rd Duke of Atholl, whose patronage was significant to Steuart's career, selected Steuart to decorate the dining room at Blair Castle which had been completed c 1751. Steuart executed the large wall panels at Blair between 1766 and 1778.
It is believed the present work can be traced to an exhibition of the Incorporated Society of Artists in 1774 No. 261. A comparable view of Whitehaven by Matthais Read (1669-1747) is in the Paul Mellon collection at the Yale Centre for British Art. We were delighted to present Charles Steuart's Port Whitehaven Harbour, St Bees and the Isle of Man from Tobacco Pipes, Westmorland in our November 2020 auction of Five Centuries: Furniture, Paintings & Works of Art which took place live online.