Sir Robert Ainslie Bt, the presumed sitter, was born on 13 January 1733, and became a lawyer in Edinburgh. He was a friend of Robert Burns and together they travelled around the Borders together. He later became an M.P., and Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, living in Constantinople between 1776 and1792. While in this post he made a great collection of antiquities, which were later bequeathed to the British Museum. He is perhaps best known for the volumes of drawings and sketches of Egypt, Palestine and elsewhere in the Middle East, which were later turned into etchings with aquatint by Luigi Mayer, when Ainslie was his patron, under the direction of Thomas Milton, and published by T. Bensley for R. Bowyer from 1801 onwards.