Bandits began to appear in English painting after the mid-1770s. Mortimer, however, was the first English artist to make these romantic outlaws the central subjects of his pictures, and by the late 1770s, his representations of banditti, which were inspired by the anti-academic and dramatic work of Salvator Rosa, had become enormously popular. Another autograph version of the present picture is in the Detroit Institute of Arts (no. 66.80) and a copy by William Woodworth is at Liverpool University. A closely related pen and ink drawing from the collection of Christopher Lennox-Boyd served as the basis for Mortimer's etching entitled Bandit Taking up his Post, published in 1778 as part of a volume of prints dedicated to Sir Joshua Reynolds (J. Sunderland, 'John Hamilton Mortimer. His Life and Works,' The Fifty-Second Volume of the Walpole Society, 1986, p. 189, nos. 140.9, 140.9 a. b. c.). The authenticity of the present lot was confirmed by John Sunderland (written communication, 12 December 1992).