Mulready was the son of Irish immigrants. He began exhibiting in London in 1803, and specialised in scenes of everyday life.
This rare, early work shows a man offering a rattle to a small child; the man's face reflects the child's delight. Within a small space, Mulready constructs a complex composition of receding vistas. The view from the parlour hung with pictures to the workshop beyond, suggests different conditions of life and prosperity. The sober colouring and meticulous execution reflect Mulready's study of Dutch painting, especially the work of Pieter de Hooch.