Gideon Yates was a maritime insurance broker in Lancaster until 1803. He spent most of 1804 in Lancaster Castle imprisoned for debt. He may well have developed his painting during this time as a means of paying his way. By 1811 he had become a professional artist. He painted many views of Lancaster, a great number of them depicting the River Lune and shipping. After 1820 Yates moved to London where he stayed until 1838, painting hundreds of views of the city.