George Clausen was born in London in 1852, his mother being Scottish while his father was from Denmark. Clausen’s father was artistically minded, and was employed as an interior decorator. Clausen at first followed in his father’s trade but in 1867 began to attend evening classes at the National Art School, which is now the Royal College of Art, in South Kensington. There he studied under the painter Edwin Long and it had been Long who convinced the younger painter to pursue art as a full time career.

In 1875 Clausen travelled to Holland and Belgium where he became influenced by Dutch naturalism. In 1881, he married Agnes Webster and the couple lived in Berkshire where the surrounding countryside provided the artist with rural scenes for his work. In 1882 Clausen left for France where he studied briefly at the Académie Julien, Paris and while there, visited the studios of French salon painters, including Carlus-Duran. In France Clausen became interested in the out-of-doors realism of Juels Bastien-Lepage.
On return to England, he formed the New English Art Club in 1886 which adhered to the French plein-air style of painting. The artist was elected ARA in 1895 and RA in 1908. From 1903-6 he was appointed to the position of Professor of Painting at the Royal Academy. He received many honours during his lifetime. In 1893 Clausen was awarded an honorary membership in the Art Workers Guild and during World War I he served as an official war artist. In 1927 he was knighted.