This man was described by Ford Madox Brown as a Member of Parliament who is also a rich army colonel. of Parliament. His income was £15,000 per year, which was a vast sum of money at the time. Despite his wealth, Ford Madox Brown believed that he was 'honest and true-hearted'.
In the painting the MP is riding into town with his young daughter, but their way has been blocked by the navvies digging up the road. Brown explains that this is rather like the MP himself: his mind is as blocked as the path. Subsequently, he is unable to hear the message of Reverend Maurice and Thomas Carlyle.
The painting is actually a portrait of one of Brown's friends, Robert Braithwaite Martineau, who sat for him on horseback.