Born in Calais, Francia moved to London in 1790 and soon afterwards was employed as a teaching assistant at J.C. Barrow’s drawing academy. He painted landscapes of different kinds, though his favourite subjects were shore scenes. He was an excellent draughtsman of boats and shipping, some of his drawings were engraved to illustrate a book of sketches of shipping by Edward William Cooke. He was one of the earliest and most accomplished of English watercolourists and by 1795, he was exhibiting at the Royal Academy. In 1817 he retired to Calais, where he lived until his death on 6 February 1839. It was here that he gave lessons to Richard Parkes Bonington, whose coast scenes bear much resemblance to the later works of Francia.