Brisbane had a successful military career from when he joined the army in 1789. He rose to the rank of General following postings in Europe, India and America. In 1820 he was appointed governor of New South Wales, Australia. This role brought with it problems left by the previous governor, Lachlan Macquarie. However, Brisbane successfully nurtured cultivation of the land, farming and sponsored exploration beyond the colonial borders. Brisbane was also fascinated by astronomy and following his return to Britain in 1825 he increasingly pursued this interest. In 1833 he succeeded Sir Walter Scott as president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. This lively sketch relates to the painting of the sitter that was commissioned by the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1848.