This delicately painted head and shoulders study of a British naval officer displays certain stylistic influences of the portraitist Anthony Devis, who was known to work on copper early in his career and produced a small self-portrait in 1742. The upright formality of the portrait presented here echoes that of Devis’s larger portraits; the features of the sitter having been carefully delineated, and a softness of form achieved through the modelling of the face, capturing the textural qualities of the eyes, nose and lips. This detail is carried through to the uniform, with shimmering gilt braid and ornate buttons with Tudor Rose motif, denoting the rank of Lieutenant on an undress uniform of this period. The manner of approach also suggests that the painter responsible for this fine portrait may also have been acquainted with Gainsborough’s work of the period.
Patricia Blackett-Barber, a curator at the National Maritime Museum, London considered that the individual was wearing the undress uniform of a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, in the period 1748-1767.