James Bruce was, at six feet four inches tall, an impressive figure. He was an explorer, archeologist and a brilliant linguist. In 1762 he spent six months in Italy where Batoni painted this glowing portrait. Bruce's travels subsequently took him to North Africa, Crete, Syria, Egypt and Abyssinia. He is best known for his exploration of the sources of the Nile, reaching the headstream of the Blue Nile in 1770.