Born in London, the senior member and best known of a family of painters, Abraham Hulk studied in Holland at the Amsterdam Academy under portrait painter Jean Augustin Daiwaille. He is one of the very few only foreign-born artists ever to be admitted to this prestigious academy. Early on he turned from portraits to marine painting.

Hulk is often mistakenly referred to as a Dutch artist due to the strong Dutch influence and conception of his paintings. He is mainly noted for his estuary scenes featuring Dutch barges under full sail. In these paintings he was considered a master of atmosphere and composition.

He traveled to America and exhibited briefly in Boston in the 1830s. He returned to Amsterdam and then London where he spent the next 27 years as a marine artist exhibiting often at the Royal Academy and Suffolk Street Gallery.