The sitter was a well known satirical writer and diplomatist, who was M.P. for Monmouthshire (1734-47) and Leominster (1754-59) and envoy to the courts of Dresden, Vienna, Berlin and St Petersburg between 1747 and 1757. He was also a notable patron of the arts commissioning works from Anton Raphael Mengs, Gainsborough and Reynolds. In 1755 he was dispatched as an envoy to St Petersburg to forge an alliance between Great Britain, Austria and Russia, in which he was ultimately unsuccessful and he returned home a broken man. He died by his own hand in 1759.
This picture is a studio copy of the original painted by van Loo in 1744, of which another version is in Leominster Town Hall (see J. Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, London, 1977, I, p. 311, II, pl. 891). The famous dramatist and novelist Henry Fielding, the author of Tom Jones, was a friend of Hanbury- Williams from their days at Eton.