This is a fine example of the portrait studies that Jonathan Richardson senior made in the leisure of his retirement.
Richardson's career as a portrait painter wound down during the 1730s as he became more involved in personal and literary projects, and in 1740 he announced that he had finally 'given over his Business, and his Continuance in Town being uncertain.' A theme that had long preoccupied Richardson's writings was how to lead a happy and virtuous life. A portrait was more than a flattering image of someone's looks, but was a means of expressing a person's character; portraits could provide an improving moral example for a subject to follow. For Richardson in his final years, making self-portraits and drawings of his immediate family became a form of daily self-examination, which he combined with writing contemplative poetry. Richardson’s self-portraits and portrait drawings of his son were celebrated in a revealing exhibition Jonathan Richardson By Himself at the Courtauld Galleries in 2015 (Susan Owens, Jonathan Richardson By Himself, London, 2015).