This is a portrait of John Charles Montague, who had been a corporal in the 16th Lancers and served for more than twenty years in India. He distinguished himself in battle on several occasions.
When he retired in 1847 he was appointed a Yeoman of the Guard. Millais shows him the uniform of the yeomen, usually known as ‘Beefeaters’. The painting was done in 1876, when Millais was then at the height of his fame. This picture remained one of his favourites, as well as being popular with the public.