Contemporaries at the Royal Academy schools in the late 1870s, when Leighton was President, and Millais and Alma-Tadema counted amongst their tutors, Solomon J. Solomon and Arthur Hacker both enrolled at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1878. In the early 1880s the pair travelled extensively together in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and North Africa, where this startling tribute to their friendship was painted. Hacker’s intense gaze immediately arrests the viewer revealing something of the rather earnest, passionate young man brimming with life and ideas. In 1895 a larger, more formal portrait by Solomon of the by-now established artist, Hacker, was exhibited at the Royal Academy, no. 749.