Lieutenant-colonel James P. Cockburn served as commander of the British Royal Artillery based at Quebec City from 1826 to 1832. He traveled through the colony on tours of inspection and was probably on such a tour in July 1829 when he painted this view of Kingston.
Cockburn was a prolific amateur artist who trained in topographical drawing for reconnaissance purposes while a cadet at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, England. He published several accounts of his travels, including Quebec and Its Environs in 1831. Such illustrated accounts of the Empire were popular with an ever-curious British public. Cockburn also served in Malta and became director of the Royal Laboratory at Woolwich, ultimately rising to the rank of major-general.