After David Wilkie's death in 1841, Duncan was seen as the leading historical painter in Scotland. However, he lived too briefly to realise his potential, dying at the peak of a brilliant career. His paintings, often of late seventeenth and early eighteenth-century episodes from Scottish history, were dramatic yet unsentimental. This portrait by Duncan's friend, Robert Scott Lauder, is full of character. The posture of the sitter suggests a forthright and passionate personality.