The present drawing is inscribed 'old Master Charles Bridgeman' and has traditionally been catalogued as a portrait of Charles Bridgeman Senior, the father of Charles Bridgeman, royal gardener to His Majesty King George II. However examination of other portraits of Bridgeman, royal gardener, by Gawin Hamilton in A Club of Artists (National Portrait Gallery, London) and by Thornhill's son-in-law, William Hogarth (Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada) are inconclusive as they also bear a resemblance to the figure in the present watercolour, see P. Willis, op.cit, pls. 1, 19. However a distinction between Bridgeman Senior and Junior is made in both the Harley and Portland papers and 'old Mr Bridgeman' is recorded as dying at Wimpole in 1726 (see G. Sherburn, The Correspondance of Alexander Pope, 1956, vol. II, p. 377), but Charles Bridgeman Junior also named his son Charles.
Bridgeman and Thornhill worked together on a number of projects, including for the Duke of Marlborough at Blenheim and at Moor Park, Hertfordshire. Both were also in the artistic circle of Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford at Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire.
Charles Bridgeman was appointed royal gardener to George II in 1728 with responsibilty for Hampton Court, Kensington Palace, St James's Park and Richmond Park, he is credited with the establishment of the English garden and the move from geometric layouts to the free designs of 'Capability' Brown. He brought his work to a peak with the creation of Stowe Park in Buckinghamshire.