Emily, Marchioness of Kildare
The sitter, second daughter of the 2nd Duke of Richmond, married James, 20th Earl of Kildare in 1747 at the age of fifteen and spent long periods in Ireland. Thanks to her family connections she was well known in London society and was much loved for her intelligence and her warm personality. Ramsay presents her as contemplative and book-learned (she is reading the ancient historian Procopius). Her sister, Lady Holland (the mother of Charles James Fox) wrote to her as the portrait was being finished: “I saw your sweet face at Ramsay’s t’other day; ‘tis a heavenly picture indeed'. Principal painter to King George III, Ramsay was one of Sir Joshua Reynolds’s chief rivals, noted for his ability to portray character and his soft, often pastel-like colour.