This work was painted at a time when sentimental images of dogs, cats and other pets were fashionable due to the influence of Queen Victoria and the Royal family. Barber became one of Queen Victoria's favourite painters and he was commissioned to paint several works for her. The fashion for sentimental images of animals and children disappeared with the coming of the twentieth century and Barber passed into obscurity. It was only in the 1980s that Victorian narrative art saw a tremendous revival. At that time 'A Special Pleader' was reproduced as a colour print and quickly became the most popular selling print of 1983–1984.
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