Romney’s younger brother James (1745-1807) was sixteen years old when this oil sketch was executed. He later became a colonel in the East India Company.
The innovative candlelight subject is close in style to works by Joseph Wright of Derby from a similar date. However, while Wright is well known for his experiments in painting candle and lamplight pictures, only three candlelight subjects by Romney are known. Two of these were included in a lottery exhibition in Kendal Town Hall in March 1762 to help fund Romney’s move to London. Unlike his contemporary, Romney did not pursue an interest in dramatic light and shadow effects after this date.