Although this fine portrait depicts an unnamed armed merchantman off Dover, the ship herself is almost certainly an East Indiaman embarking upon her maiden voyage, the usual reason for the commissioning of a work such as this. Most Indiamen during this period of the Napoleonic Wars loaded their outward-bound cargoes in London's docks and then, either singly or in company with others, made their way to Portsmouth from whence they sailed east in convoy.
In all, nine East Indiamen made their maiden departures in 1810, the date of this portrait, but seven can be excluded immediately by virtue of their size - one is far larger than the vessel shown here and six are similarly too small. The two ships remaining were called Astell and Thomas Grenville, 820 and 889 tons respectively, and both sailed from Portsmouth in August 1810, within a fortnight of each other. No portraits of either have so far been located but were any to be so, the identity of this vessel could then be confirmed.