The sitter has been incorrectly identified as the Countess of Kildare and as Mrs. Knott, both of whom were painted by Wissing; a portrait of the former is in the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, and a portrait of the latter is in the Royal Collection. Hermann Williams (1939) found the work similar to a portrait of Mary Musgrave signed and dated 1687 (sold, Christie's, London, December 4, 1925, no. 151).
Wissing was an assistant to Lely until the older artist's death in 1680, but during the last years of his brief career, he had very important aristocratic patrons and ran his own busy studio, devising patterns that he could use repeatedly. The present work, and the portraits of Mrs. Knott and Mrs. Musgrave, together with at least three other pictures (Baetjer 2009), represent variations on one such model.
In 1996 conservator Charlotte Hale treated the painting, removing a discolored, opacified varnish, as well as extensive overpainting from the blue dress, which is abraded. She found that the technique relates to that of two full-length portraits by Wissing and Jan van der Vaart, a drapery painter who worked with Wissing: one of the Duchess of Richmond and Lennox, signed by both artists and dated 1687 (National Portrait Gallery, London), and an undated portrait of Queen Anne (National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh). The blue draperies in all three paintings are similar in their shapes, as are the fall of light, and the type and amount of wear (treatment report in departmental files).
[2010; adapted from Baetjer 2009]