The sitter was one of the most important English neo-classical sculptors, and Flaxman's ability was noticed and encouraged by Romney at an early age. Flaxman was a precocious talent and won the first prize of the Society of Arts at the age of twelve. In 1775 he began regularly to produce ceramic designs for Josiah Wedgewood, who in turn became an established patron. He resided in Italy from 1787-1794 and returned to England an established and respected artist. He was elected the first professor of sculpture at the Royal Academy in 1810. He married Ann (c. 1760-1820), daughter of William Denman in 1782.