John Boultbee was the twin brother of the artist Thomas Boultbee, from a family of some standing. In the 1770s the brothers went to London, and it is thought that Reynolds gave them guidance after an introduction from their grandfather, Rev. Thomas Boultbee, whose portrait Reynolds had painted. It has been suggested by Shaw Sparrow that John studied under Sawrey Gilpin, and he was clearly influenced by Stubbs, whom he was known to copy. By the 1780s John was working in Loughborough, where he was commissioned by Robert Bakewell (1726-95). In 1784, he married Anne Coulton from Derby, by whom he had eight children, of which one was the arist Thomas Joseph (b. 1787). By 1812 he moved from Chester to Liverpool, where in the same year eight of his pictures were hung in the Liverpool Academy; he died a few months later. His pictures are renowned for the modelling of the horses and more often have distant classical landscapes. The present picture, dated 1773, is a rare example of the artists early work.