Kirkman was born in Los Angeles in 1958 and moved to England aged fifteen. He studied at the West Surrey College of Art and at Camberwell School of Art. The artist's first one-man show was held at the Park Walk Gallery in 1990 where one critic was prompted to describe his style, 'as a marriage between Stubbs and Munnings'. His early work consisted of traditional racing subjects executed on a large scale, whereas his more recent work has focused on intimate studies of horse and jockey in oil and, as in the present work, in pastel. Inspired by Degas, his pastels show a masterly understanding of colour and composition (see G. Budd, Racing Art and Memorabilia A Celebration of the Turf, London, 1997, p. 100).