This painting is one of three by Ballantyne of the artist Thomas Faed at work. It is part of a larger series of works that show artists in their studios, most of which were completed by 1864 with some later additions. In this painting, Faed’s easel is facing outwards so that the spectator can see the unfinished canvas of ‘The Mitherless Bairn’ – the orphan. This work was Faed's first great success, but it was exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1855, about a decade before Ballantyne painted his view of Faed’s studio. Thomas Faed was the youngest of three artist brothers. His narrative genre paintings were very popular in his lifetime and many were published as prints and were sold to a larger Victorian audience.