Coldstream said that he ‘wanted to paint people’. During the 1930s he regularly painted portraits of people he encountered, from poets to businessmen. This objective portrayal of an old man dressed in working clothes is typical of Coldstream’s work when he was teaching at the Euston Road School.
The sitter, Mr Wall, regularly modelled for Coldstream and Victor Pasmore during 1939. The anonymity of the title, however, indicates Coldstream’s interest in the sitter as a type rather than as an identifiable likeness.