The sitter has traditionally been identified as Richard Bendyshe (1699-1777), of Barrington Hall, Cambridgeshire, in whose family the portrait descended until 1994. Richard Bendyshe was the eldest son of Thomas Bendyshe (1670-1710), and his wife, Catherine, daughter of Richard Stacey, and died unmarried in 1777. However, the date on the picture, which has only recently come to light, casts some doubt on this traditional identification as the sitter does not appear to be aged fifty-two. On the basis of the sitter's apparent age an alternative indentification is that of John Jervis (1721-1755), of Darlaston, whose daughter Jane, married Richard Bendyshe's nephew and heir Richard Bendyshe (b.1753) in 1783.
Andrea Soldi, who was born in Florence, is first recorded painting portraits of British merchants of the Levant company in Constantinople and Aleppo, and it seems likely that it was on the advice of some of these merchants that he travelled to London and settled there in 1736. In London his portraiture, which was refreshing in its lightness of style and sense of colour particularly when contrasted to the output of some of Sir Godfery Kneller's pupils, met with considerable success. Among his patrons, the most important were William Montagu, 2nd Duke of Manchester, and Thomas Belasyse, 4th Viscount Fauconberg who both commissioned a series of portraits. Soldi's extravagance, however, led him into debt and consequent imprisonment in 1744. In the latter part of his career his portrait style became less fashionable in aristocratic circles and he increasingly felt the competition from his rivals Thomas Hudson, Allan Ramsay and Sir Joshua Reynolds. This portrait was painted in the same year that he executed his celebrated portrait of the sculptor Louis-Francois Roubillac (now in the Dulwich College Picture Gallery).