Nathaniel Hone was born in Dublin but by 1748 had settled in London. Originally a member of the Society of Artists, he seceded to become one of the 34 original Foundation Members of the Royal Academy in 1768. A painter and miniaturist, he was a frequent exhibitor at the Academy, but his somewhat quarrelsome character led him into conflict with Reynolds, whose reliance on Old Master motifs (and supposed affair with Angelica Kauffman RA) he famously lampooned in his painting The Conjuror (1775, National Gallery of Ireland) .
Hone painted many self-portraits that present him in a variety of guises. In this example he depicts himself like a portrait by Anthony Van Dyck (a famous 17th-century painter), since many of Van Dyck’s sitters were of high social status. When this picture was conserved recently, a feigned oval frame was discovered to be a later addition. This over-painting has now been removed to reveal glimpses of sky and vine leaves behind the figure of the artist.