Born in Boston, Lincolnshire, Cornelius Pearson worked as a landscape painter and engraver. He went to London at an early age where he was apprenticed to a copperplate engraver. He then began to paint, mainly in watercolour. Pearson lived mainly in London, but he painted scenes of Wales, the Lake District, Scotland, Devon, the Thames Valley and other picturesque parts of the country. His figure drawing was poor and he often had to collaborate with other artists. He had a long-standing friendship with a fellow painter, Thomas Francis Wainwright, and they were known to collaborate on many paintings: Pearson did the landscape and Wainwright added sheep and cattle.