James Godsell Middleton was a talented painter of the 19th century who seems to have been influenced unsurprisingly by the dominant masters of the portrait genre such as Lawrence and latterly Shee. A skilful draughtsman and an accomplished colourist his controlled yet spontaneous appearing brushstrokes lend a certain air of immediacy to his works. He exhibited consistently throughout his career at the Royal Academy and established a highly successful society portrait practice in London, after spending some time in Rome, where his self-portrait is to be found in the Pitti palace, Florence. Among his sitters were the Countess of Malmesbury, Viscount Combermere and Mary Anne, Viscountess Beaconsfield.
This sensitive and well observed portrait of a young boy, maybe just approaching his early teenage years, is a charming and insightful image of a youth on the cusp of maturity. The overriding self confidence which he holds his pose is an indication of a more adult world to which he will soon be introduced, whilst the boyish roundness of the face still echoes that of the small child and the upstairs safe haven of the nursery.