Working-class male figures are central to Howson’s work, and this painting elevates its subject to that of hero. Dramatically lit, the large canvas is dominated by the huge, solid figure of the Dosser, who firmly grasps the railing as if to steady himself against what appears to be a surrounding mass of water. Although isolated, he is proud, strong and defiant. Behind him, a forbidding-looking building looms ominously – it appears to rest on his shoulders, perhaps suggesting that he carries a burden with him. At the time this work was painted, the artist had a studio in the Gallowgate area of Glasgow, near to a hostel for the homeless. Howson made the painting from memory, based on a man he saw nearby. It is the first of a series of pictures of ‘dossers,’ made in different media.