The sitter, a politician and Latin poet, was the eldest son of Gideon Hardinge (d. 1712), vicar of Kingston, and Mary Westbrooke. He studied Classics at King's College, Cambridge, before pursuing a career in Law. Called to the bar in 1725, Hardinge was appointed Chief Clerk to the House of Commons in 1731, and later Joint Secretary of the Treasury. In 1738, Hardinge married Jane, daughter of Sir John Pratt, the Lord Chief Justice, with whom he had nine sons and three daughters. Hardinge went on to become a Member of Parliament for the borough of Eye, Suffolk between 1748 and 1758. Throughout his political career, he maintained his academic interest in the Classics; a collection of Latin verses he had composed were published posthumously by his eldest son, the politician and barrister George Hardinge, in 1780.
The execution of this portrait is wholly characteristic of Ramsay, however, the treatment of certain aspects, for example the chair, are less accomplished and may suggest a degree of delegation in the execution. The format of the painting, even more so than the engraving (which shows the sitter half-length), shows a debt to Jean-Baptiste van Loo.