Portraits on paper by Romney are very rare. The present drawing was executed circa 1760-62. Thanks to the recent reappraisal of an early oil portrait by Romney, the present drawing may now be identified as the Rev. William Atkinson (1724-1764). The oil, which was formerly attributed to Reynolds, and then to Nathaniel Hone, has been shown to be of Atkinson, a Westmorland clergyman who was curate of Selside, just north of Kendal, when Romney was living and working in Kendal between 1757 and 1762.
The informality of the present drawing suggests that Atkinson may have been a personal friend of the artist, perhaps someone who shared Romney's love of music or literature.