Carel Weight and Ruskin Spear both taught at the Royal College of Art, where this portrait was painted. A painting by David Hockney, who was then one of Weight’s pupils, rests on an easel in the background.
Spear rarely idealises the people in his portraits. Here he shows Weight with dropping shoulders, ruffled hair and a dream-like expression on his face. By painting in this objective style, Spear communicates his empathy and, in this case, his close friendship with the sitter.