This portrait of the Italian landscape painter Zuccarelli was painted when Wilson was working in Italy. Although he later established himself as the leading painter of classical landscapes, Wilson started out as a portrait painter. The rather modest and informal qualities of this image are typical of British portrait painting of this period.
Zuccarelli painted literary and mythological landscape scenes and encouraged Wilson to do the same. Like his contemporary Reynolds, Wilson exploited his Italian experience to re-establish himself as a painter in the ‘grand style’ that suited the increasingly pretentious tastes of British art patrons.