Thomas Daniell specialised in topographical painting, that is, representations of specific landscape scenery. He made his name with a series of prints of views based on his travels in India in 1786–1794. Such ‘exotic’ Indian scenes became the stock-in-trade for Daniell for the rest of his career.
Wilkie presents the painter as a sobre and benign figure recalling, ultimately, the example of Rembrandt’s portraits. The reserved and modest character of the painting is typical of early-nineteenth- century artist’s portraits, which tend to present an image of sturdy professionalism rather than flamboyance or extravagance.