Pennell’s father worked on Walnut Street Wharf in Philadelphia for the Cope Brothers. They ran a packet line between Philadelphia and Liverpool. As a young boy, Pennell accompanied his father to work, his office overlooking the River. Pennell drew the scenery from the window, a view point and subject he favoured throughout his career. The plunging perspective creates a sense of awe and wonder. This technique recollects the great 19th century landscapes painters who refined the sublime view of nature by using perspective and composition to emphasise vastness, mystery and power.