||Stanfield was born in Sunderland, son of the actor and writer James Field Stanfield. In his youth he was occasionally on the stage, before being apprenticed to a heraldic coach painter in Edinburgh. He ran away and went to sea in a collier in 1808, and was pressed into the Royal Navy in 1812. His artistic skills were put to use in decorating the port admiral's ballroom at Sheerness. He was invalided as unfit in 1814, but subsequently went on a voyage to China as a seaman on board an East India Company vessel. He found work as a scenery painter at the Royalty Theatre, Wellclose Square, London, in 1816. From there he graduated through other posts to work at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in 1823. At Drury Lane over the next twelve years he achieved a legendary reputation as a creator of romantic landscape scenery and was particularly noted for his vast moving dioramas, introduced mainly into Christmas pantomimes and Easter spectacles. From 1834 onwards he began to concentrate on his already successful work as an easel painter. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1820, and the British Institution, and was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1835. During this period he made a number of European tours, as well as travelling around Britain and Ireland. On the whole, his work consisted of oils and watercolours of coastal marine subjects, though there were some notable naval themes, mostly relating to Nelson. The second son of his second marriage, George Clarkson Stanfield (1828-1878), was also a landscape and marine painter.