The young nobleman, Marcus Pauli Holst von Schmidten, is seen running on his way to school; his school is glimpsed in the background. The boy’s figure is simultaneously in movement and in balance. It is one of few examples of a figure in movement in Juel’s mature work. Like several other of Juel’s late works, this painting has a certain classical feel. It has prompted comparisons to the portraits created by his contemporary, the French artist Jacques Louis David, but there is no evidence proving that Juel had direct knowledge of David. It is, however, possible that Juel was introduced to English portraits through his friend, the engraver J. F. Clemens, who stayed in London 1792-95. An engraving after the American painter Gilbert Stuart's The Skater (Washington, National Gallery of Art) may have served as inspiration for this painting. The landscape does not surround the boy; it exclusively serves to form the background, thereby helping to give the painting a relief-like feel.
Juel’s decision to show the boy in movement is very deliberate; the boy attended the Christianis Institut school, which lay outside of the Copenhagen of the day (where the Vesterbro neighbourhood is today). The school did pioneering work to give children the opportunity to play and do athletics in the open air. The school’s playground was the first to be built in Denmark.