The sitter was an 18th century writer and printer. At a young age he was apprenticed to a printer, whose daughter he went on to marry. He printed the Jacobite political paper The True Briton, which attached the government and was censored for printing 'common libels'. Richardson was later granted a contract with the House of Commons to print the Journals of the House. In 1733 he wrote the manual The Apprentice's Vade Mecum, in which he urges young men like himself to be diligent and self-denying and condemns popular forms of entertainment such as theatres, taverns and gambling. In his fifties, when he began to wind down his printing business, he wrote his first novel, Pamela: or, Virtue Rewarded. The work is regarded by some as the first modern novel. He saw immediate success, though he was not popular with the Catholic Church who added his name to the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a list established by the Pope of books that Catholics were banned from reading. Despite this, he enjoyed a successful career as a writer. On his death the output of his printing press declined and eventually stopped.
A smaller, rectangular, version of the present miniature, signed and dated 1852, was sold Christie's, London, 26 November 1986, lot 92. The Henry Pierce Bone Estate sale, Christie's, London, 13-14 March 1856, featured two portraits of Richardson after Hogarth by H. P. Bone as lots 42 and 90.