Rousseau (1712-1778) the famous French-Swiss social philosopher and moralist wears the fur hat and fur trimmed jacket of his favourite Armenian costume. This attire had aroused the curiosity of London society following Rousseau's arrival in Britain in 1766. Ramsay chose a dark background which emphasises the fall of light on Rousseau's head and neck as he turns towards the artist and viewer. Rousseau's revolutionary views on society, education and religion had caused him to flee from persecution by the Swiss and French authorities. Ramsay painted this portrait as a gift for his close friend David Hume, Rousseau's host in London.