The infamous romantic poet Lord Byron was half-Scottish and spent his early childhood in Aberdeen. He retained a trace of a Scottish accent throughout his life. Byron's complicated relationships had caused a scandal and in 1816 he left Britain forever. At the time of this portrait, he was living in Italy with his lover, Countess Teresa Guiccioli. The American artist, William West, complained that the poet was a difficult sitter, either restless and over-talkative or silent and self-conscious. Nobody liked the finished work; Teresa said it was a 'frightful caricature'.