The helmet worn by the sitter is the 'Waterloo' helmet adopted by the King's Dragoon Guards in 1812. Horsehair was used for the tuft at the front of the crest and for the long tail at the back; and a metal plate records the name of the regiment and a 'G.R.' cipher.
In 1817 Dawe was present at the review of the allied troops by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington in Cambrai, Belgium. Soon after, he was invited by Tsar Alexander I of Russia to paint portraits of all his senior officers who had fought in the Napoleonic Wars, and in 1819 Dawe travelled to St Petersburg where, over the next nine years, he painted nearly 400 portraits.