Pringle’s preferred subjects were found in his local area, from scenes of streets and tenement buildings to portraits of his friends and family. Although the identity of the sitter in this portrait is unknown, he is most likely a boy from the east-end of Glasgow, where Pringle ran a shop. Smartly dressed in his Sunday best, the boy’s expression suggests discomfort at his role as subject of the portrait. This may have led to the painting being known as 'A Reluctant Subject'. Pringle’s use of square brushstrokes shows the influence of French Neo-Impressionism, although his art education was gained primarily through taking classes at Glasgow School of Art and visiting exhibitions in Scotland. He did travel abroad once, to Normandy in 1910, the year this portrait was painted.