A genre and historical painter, John was the elder brother of Thomas and James Faed, both of whom were exhibiting artists. He found success in Edinburgh, being elected to the Royal Scottish Academy in 1851, before settling in London from 1862-80. There he showed at both the Royal Academy and Suffolk Street.
'What will happen next?' illustrates the Victorian vogue for so-called 'problem pictures'. Without reference to a literary source, Faed places the viewer in the centre of a drama about to reach its potential climax, and invites him to draw his own conclusions as to 'what will happen next'. The young intruder surprises an older gentleman, whose back is turned to us as he both conceals and indicates the figure in armour. Grasping a dagger with one ungloved hand, this anonymous presence conveys great threat, though we do not know his relation to either of the protagonists.