Captain James Scott (1746-1809) lived in Boston and was the second husband of Mrs. John Hancock (Dorothy Quincy). A copy of a portrait by John Singleton Copley, this painting was acquired by Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York in the early 1940s from descendants of the John Hancock family. Other works acquired by Knoedler & Co. include two Copley pastels of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Hancock (now in a private New York collection) and a portrait of John Hancock, which Savage also copied from a portrait by Copley, now in the collection of the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C.
Born in Princeton, Massachusetts in 1761, Edward Savage began painting in Boston around 1785. In 1789, he went to New York City to paint portraits of President Washington and his family and remained there until 1791, when he went to England. Returning two years later, he moved to Philadelphia, where he married and settled. He returned to New York City in 1801 and worked there until 1810, when he moved to Boston. He stayed in Boston for the remainder of his life.