A critical and commercial failure during his short life, David Scott was championed by his younger brother William and a small circle of Edinburgh painters who considered him a genius. His vast historical canvases are now considered to be somewhere between inspirational and incompetent. This is one of a series of portraits which Lauder made of his friends. Scott's intense gaze is directed to a vision hidden from the viewer. The sombre darkness of the clothes and background is relieved only by the bright, paint-smeared cloth in the artist's hand.