Watson Gordon succeeded Raeburn as Scotland's foremost portrait painter, but he had commenced his career with subject pictures, of which this seems to have been the last. It depicts an imaginary and romantically improbable episode in sixteenth or early seventeenth-century Scottish history. Marauders have seized on an innocent family and are bearing them away to their mountainous stronghold. Watson Gordon seems to have transferred to the hills of his own country the kind of Alpine robbers and banditti so often painted by Salvator Rosa and his followers. His view of early Scottish society was undoubtedly influenced by the edition of Border Ballads, and by the original poetry and novels of Sir Walter Scott.