Indian goatherds at rest signed, inscribed and dated 'W HAVELL PIN. 1820' (lower right), oil on canvas 47.7 x 57.5cm (18 3/4 x 22 5/8in).
Largely self-taught, Havell worked in his family's London-based engraving firm for several years with his father, the topographical and architectural engraver and publisher, Daniel Havell, and his cousin, the painter William Havell. He was a founding member of the Old Watercolour Society in 1804, along with his close friends the Varleys and Cristall.
Havell accepted the post of official artist to the embassy of China led by William Pitt, Earl Amherst of Arracan (1773-1857) to the Chinese Emperor Jiaqing, which set out in 1816. The voyage was made via Madeira, Rio de Janeiro, the Cape and Java. Following a serious quarrel on board the ship with one of the officers however, Havell left his post and sailed to India in 1817. He stayed there until 1825, finding lucrative employment in painting landscapes and portraits.