Shields was a Manchester painter, watercolourist and decorator whose artistic career was determined when he saw the works of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood at the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition of 1857. He later became a close friend of both Rossetti and Ford Madox Brown, although his work, which is strongly realistic and religious in outlook, perhaps comes closer to Holman Hunt than any other Pre-Raphaelite artist. Although he often worked in watercolour and for many years exhibited at the Royal Watercolour Society, his two most substantial commissions were mural decorations for the Chapel of Eaton Hall, Cheshire, seat of the Dukes of Westminster, and the Chapel of the Ascension, Bayswater Road. This oil probably relates to the latter. The chapel was commissioned by Mrs. Russell Gurney, widow of the Recorder of London, in the hope that it would provide a sanctuary for meditation away from the hubub of nearby Marble Arch. The chapel was designed by Herbert Horne in 1887 and although construction beban in 1890, legal disputes ensured that it was not completed until 1910. Shields chose to decorate the interior with the principle scenes of Christ's Life and visited Italy in 1889 to gather material for the sequence. The chapel in consequence carried strong echoes of Giotto's fresco cycles in Assissi and Padua. It was destroyed by enemy action during the Second World War.