Peploe took a serious interest in Old Master painting, visiting Holland in 1895 and returning with reproductions of works by Rembrandt and Frans Hals. In Edinburgh, in the Scottish National Gallery, Peploe had close to hand Hals’ portraits of ‘A Dutch Lady’ and ‘A Dutch Gentleman’. Peploe’s paintings, such as this self-portrait, relate strongly to Hals’ free use of paint and vigorous characterisation of his sitters. The subject for this portrait was Tom Morris, an Edinburgh vagabond. Morris provided Peploe with an unselfconscious subject, well suited to his already bold handling of paint.