This portrait of Jonathan Buttall, who was a close friend of Gainsborough, was executed during Gainsborough's extended stay in Bath. The artist has dressed the young man in costume dating from about 140 years earlier. This type of costume was familiar through the portraits of the great Flemish painter, Anthony van Dyck (1559 - 1641), who was resident in England during the early 17th century. Gainsborough greatly admired the van Dyck's work, and this painting may be considered an act of homage to the master. The colour blue was believed to be a reaction, and a statement to his friendly rival, Sir Joshua Reynold, demanding acknowledgement that blue was not just a background colour.