The composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies has lived on a croft on the island of Hoy in Orkney since 1970. The island has been the inspiration for much of his work and he is also closely associated with the annual St Magnus Festival. The Gallery commissioned John Bellany to paint this portrait. When Bellany first met Maxwell Davies he was struck by his piercing black eyes ('like Picasso's') and powerful charisma. Bellany knew he could "do something extraordinary". During the sittings, artist and composer discussed the creative act and found much common ground: "The painting blossomed, a friendship was born and the whole experience was a joy".