Ralph Battell was a notable member of the late 17th century clergy. Rallying against the vestiges of Puritanism he became a great exponent of the inclusion of music and ceremony in the context of church services and used his position within the royal household at the Chapel Royal to air these views publishing in 1694 The Lawlessness and Expediency of Church Music. Himself the son of a clergyman, he was educated at Peterhouse College Cambridge, and became S.T.P. (or D.D) Professor of Divinity in 1705. Ordained a deacon at Ely in 1671, he became rector of Edworth and prebendary of Worcester Cathedral in 1680. He joined the Royal Household in 1689 as Sub- Deacon and Sub-Almoner a position he held until his death in 1712.
This interesting portrait is clearly a version taken from the now lost portrait by Michael Dahl (1659-1743) which exists now only in mezzotint. Following the 18th century fashion within institutions the painting has some personal details scripted along the lower part of the painting which was a common habit of schools and colleges.