Chalmers was a preacher and social reformer. He was on the evangelical side of the Church of Scotland and led the breakaway group that formed the Free Church in 1843. Chalmers was famous for the intensity with which he preached. One American witness described how Chalmers 'throws himself forward as if he would pitch headlong out of the pulpit'. Edouart's silhouette, thrusting across the paper, captures something of the alarming physical nature of these performances.