Harold Rathbone (1858 - 1929) was a member of the prominent Liverpool merchant family. His father Philip (1828 - 1895) chaired the committee which ran the Walker Art Gallery. Harold studied at the Slade School of Art and became a pupil of Ford Madox Brown (1821 - 1893). In 1894 Harold founded the Della Robbia Pottery Company, Birkenhead, which produced ceramics in an Art Nouveau style. This portrait may have been the outcome of contact between Rathbone and Holman Hunt in 1890-91, when he organised the public subscription to buy Hunt's 'The Triumph of the Innocents' for the Walker Art Gallery. The portrait was exhibited in the Liverpool Autumn Exhibition in 1894.