This painting shows four friends in Rome during their Grand Tour, the journey made by wealthy gentlemen to Italy in search of antique and modern culture that was at its most popular in the late-18th century. The Colosseum, urn and drawing of Palladian architecture allude to the friends’ classical learning and experience. Dance-Holland travelled to Italy in 1754 to study and improve his art, remaining there until 1766. As well as producing works on classical subjects, he painted portraits of British tourists passing through Rome. Dance-Holland was commissioned to produce four versions of this painting, one for each sitter.