Samuel Prout was born in 1783 and studied at Plymouth Grammar School. As a teenager he tried to earn a living as an illustrator and accompanied the historical painter B. R. Haydon on a tour of Devon and produced some good work but in 1796 his drawings of Cornwall for the publisher John Britton were considered not of a consistently high standard and it took a further 6 years before Britton would employ him again. While trying to improve his style, by studying the great landscape artists, he dabbled in the newly-invented art of lithography and earned a living painting marine pieces, teaching and producing drawing books for art students.
He moved to London in 1812 and lived for a time in Kennington Road, for many years in Stockwell.
In 1819 he became a member of the Old Watercolour Society and took his first overseas trip. It was in France that he first found his niche, painting gothic buildings with great precision in a natural but picturesque style with good use of natural light and shade. Ill health plagued Prout but this did not stop him travelling widely in Europe, but after a trip to Normandy in 1846 he became so ill that he was unable to work again. He died in February 1852.