This print depicts the American naval hero John Paul Jones (1747-1792), so-called Father of the American Navy. During the late eighteenth century, naval portraits followed a compositional formula, in which the sitter’s greatest victory was depicted in the background. Here, Jones’s victory over the British frigate Serapis can be seen in the distance to the right. As his own ship
—Bonhomme Richard—began to sink, he was asked to surrender. Jones reportedly answered the British captain with the now famous words, “I have not yet begun to fight,” and secured a decisive victory for the American forces.