The son of a Dutch artist who emigrated to London by 1674, Laroon was born on Bow Street, near Covent Garden, in April 1679. His father, Marcellus Lauron (whose name was anglicized by his son), was a master copyist and assistant in Sir Godfrey Kneller's (1646-1723) studio, based in the Piazza, one of the most fashionable, intellectual and sometimes disreputable areas of London. The people that filled the Piazza provided Lauron with a variety of characters for his drawings, engravings of many of which were published in volumes such as The Cryes of the City of London (circa 1709-11). The drawings, probably inspired by J. Bonnart's Cris de Paris published a few years before Lauron's works, may well have influenced his son's characterful drawings.
Loaned to the Tate Gallery by Dr. R. Hemphill between 1966-84, Raines commented on Laroon's technique in the present drawing: 'How felicitously in his earlier years he could use red chalk is shown by the masterly study of a Birdcatcher of probably the mid-thirties' (op.cit., p. 59).
The collection of Dr Robert Hemphill, a distinguished psychiatrist practising in Bristol, also included drawings by artists such as Blake, Rowlandson, Towne and White Abbott; much of it was sold in these Rooms, 22 February 1966, lots 124-188.