Born in Dublin, John Ramage attended the Dublin School of Artists, where he received training as a goldsmith and painter. About 1772 he emigrated to the colonies, first to Nova Scotia and by 1775 he had settled in Boston. During the Revolution he was a Loyalist.
In general most of Ramage's sitters were either Tories or were sympathetic to the British. Although little is known about Bethune, it is presumed that he was a Loyalist (he is portrayed in a "red coat" uniform) and the miniature was probably painted in Boston. The likeness is straightforward and unidealized, including a prominent five o'clock shadow. The emphatic red of the uniform placed against the solid dark background is also striking.
This text is adapted from Martha Severens "The Miniature Portrait Collection of the Carolina Art Association" published by the Carolina Art Association, 1984