Born in Rhode Island, Gilbert Stuart became the leading American portraitist of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. In 1775, with the Revolutionary War severely affecting his business, Stuart left for England, where he eventually became the principal assistant to Benjamin West, the Pennsylvania-born court history painter to King George III. Stuart garnered critical attention in London, exhibiting at the Royal Academy from 1777 to 1785, resulting in numerous commissions from the aristocracy and other prominent individuals. Stuart painted this portrait of John Jones, an English naval officer, around 1785, shortly before mounting debts forced him to flee to Dublin. At present, little is known about the sitter, except that he was one of eight children born to John Jones and Ann Pitt, and that he was associated with Frankley, a Worcestershire estate owned in the eighteenth century by the Lyttleton family. Stuart returned to the United States in 1793 and became known for his numerous depictions of George Washington, including the now iconic Athenaeum Portrait, which served as the basis for the likeness of the president on the one dollar bill.