Alfred Wallis was a Cornish fisherman and artist. His parents, Charles and Jane Wallis were from Penzance in Cornwall and moved to Devonport, Devon to find work in 1850. Shortly after Jane Wallis died prompting the family to move back to Penzance. On leaving school Alfred was apprenticed to a basket maker before becoming a mariner in the merchant service by the early 1870s. He sailed on schooners across the North Atlantic between Penzance and Newfoundland.