Much of Baird?s artistic output from his later years consisted of portraits of friends and local characters. In this example of his formal portraiture, the sitter is James Carson, who was headmaster at Rossie Farm School in Montrose. The portrait was commissioned by a local businessman and was originally presented to the school shortly after the sitter?s retiral. It commemorates Carson?s forty years of service and the associated award of an MBE. Carson was born in Dalry, Ayrshire, and was also Chair of the Montrose branch of the Worker?s Education Association. As a committed Socialist, it is likely that Baird also knew the sitter in this capacity.