Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford, served as Prime Minister from 1757-1782. His wife, Somerset-born Anne Speke was 'with excellent good sense'. Married to Lord North at sixteen, she had seven children. Lord North was fiercely loyal to King George III, and his time as Prime Minister was dominated by ongoing problems in the American colonies culminating in the American War of Independence (1775-1783).
Catherine, or Katherine, Read was born in Dundee into a wealthy Jacobite family and studied in Paris under Maurice-Quentin de La Tour (1704-1788) and in Rome with Louis-Gabriel Blanchet (1705-1772), before returning to London in 1754. She quickly established herself as a fashionable portrait painter in pastel and oil, especially of aristocratic women and their children, her fame leading Smollett to declare that 'Miss Reid excelled the celebrated Rosalba in portrait-painting, both in miniature and at large, in oil as well as in crayons' (History of England, 1791, V, p. 381). She gained a powerful patron in Queen Charlotte, whom she painted with the infant Prince of Wales in 1761. She exhibited at the Society of Artists and at the Royal Academy between 1760 and 1776.