The dwarf Baiocco, less than a yard tall, was a well-known character in Rome. His nickname was stolen from the baiocco, the smallest Roman coin of the time. A drawing of Baiocco by David Allan is in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh (see B. Ford, 'William Constable, An Enlightened Yorkshire Patron', Apollo, XCIX, June 1974, p.411, fig.7), and there are pictures of him by Marchionni in the Museo di Roma, and by Philip Wickstead at Burton Constable (Ford, op. cit., p.411, fig.7).
Franciszek Smuglewicz was the son of a Warsaw craft painter Lukasz Smuglewicz and was apprenticed to Szymon Czechowicz. He travelled to Rome in 1763 and studied under Anton von Maron and then from 1766 at the Accademia di S.Luca on a bursary given by King Stanislas V. He remained in Rome until 1784 and became infleunced by the classical academicism, a style to which he remained faithful. In Rome Smuglewicz became proficient at fresco and portrait painting.
As the inscription on the reverse of the painting suggests, this picture was presumably painted for an English traveller on the Grand Tour. The artist painted two portrait groups of the family of James Byre, perhaps the most influential of cicerone in Rome (Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery, and Ford Collection), and also supplied pictures of the 5th Duke of St. Albans and his wife and of the Hon. Philip Yorke with his governor.
In 1784 Smuglewicz returned to Warsaw where he set up his own school of painting and painted numerous pictures for churches, he also painted historical scenes in the style of group portraits. In 1797 he settled in Wilno where he became the director of the new School of Fine Arts. Smuglewicz continued to paint large altarpieces and also started to paint murals depicting folklore, painting these also in St. Petersburg.