William Kidd, a contemporary of Sir David Wilkie, was best known for his genre scenes and comic figures. He began painting at the age of 13, while he was an apprentice of James Howe and by 1817 was exhibiting at the Royal Academy, London. His paintings got the attention of contemporary authors and artists and he illustrated scenes from Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns. However, he continued to paint domestic scenes and rural life: Peasants, fishermen and people going about their daily activities were the subject matter of his often small scale work.
During the last ten years of his life Kidd hardly produced any paintings due to his ill health and the death of his wife. He often requested financial assistance from the Royal Scottish Academy. Nevertheless, his work was recognized by friends and contemporary artists like David Roberts: 'By far the best artist among them was my late friend William Kidd, who afterwards painted many excellent pictures, embodying the humour and pathos of Scottish life in a most delightful manner.'