Three versions of the present composition are known. The others, which are of the same format, are in the Tate Gallery (no. 00943; E. Einberg and J. Egerton, op.cit., no.15) and the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (E. Einberg and J. Egerton, p. 36, fig. 6). This composition differs slightly from the other versions in that a spaniel that appears in the other two, at the foot of the right hand sitter's dress, does not appear here. The very detailed description of the version at Stisted Hall, Essex, in the Gentleman's Magazine in 1794 (op.cit.), mentions the cat in the composition but makes no mention of a dog, which indicates that it is likely to be the present picture.
The central group in the painting enjoy a game of cards; their status as patrons of the arts is suggested by the presence of an artist and his assistant carrying a folder of sketches behind the table. They are also waited on by a young servant of African or Afro-Caribbean heritage. The rise of the British Empire in the eighteenth century, fuelled in part by enslaved labour on plantations in the North Atlantic world, was a period of economic growth in Britain. It also brought unparalleled numbers of Africans and people of African and Afro-Caribbean heritage, both enslaved and free, to the British Isles. In many Conversation pieces of this date unidentified males or females of African heritage are included, almost exclusively in the role of the servant and placed in the margins of the composition. Here the boy is shown wearing blue and silver livery; this may either have reflected the family’s colours or have been designed specifically for him.