Sir Dance-Holland was the third son of the 18th Century London architect George Dance the Elder. He studied under Francis Hayman as well as spending several years in Italy where he was much influenced by the sophisticated portrait style of Pompeo Batoni (1708-1787).
Dance-Holland also became hopelessly smitten with Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807) whilst in Italy. On his return to England, he took up portrait painting and contributed to the first exhibition at the Royal Academy (1769) with full length portraits of King George III and his young Queen. The Royal Collection holds many of his works including some of his early History paintings. Dance-Holland was a founding member of the Academy alongside his teacher Hayman. He continued to contribute portraits and history paintings to the Academy exhibitions until he retired in 1776, after being bestowed a large inheritance.
Upon marrying his wife Harriet – the daughter of Sir Cecil Bishop – in 1790, Dance-Holland bought the manor house in Little Wittenham and took on the suffix Holland. Following his retirement from professional painting he became the MP for East Grinstead and was then made a baron.
Sadly when he passed away in 1811 he had no children to pass on the wealth he had created through his paintings.