This blunt, even slightly wooden, portrait of a prosperous-looking townsman is Stubbs’s earliest securely-dated painting. Liverpool’s greatest native artist is best known as a painter of animals but began his career as a portraitist. He left Liverpool at the age of 17 and worked in a number of northern towns, returning home occasionally before settling in London at the age of about 35. This work is thought to have been painted on a visit to Liverpool in 1755. Nothing is known of the sitter, but his name and age (33) have been preserved thanks to an inscription on the back of the canvas. There is some evidence to suggest he may have been a childhood neighbour of the artist.