Katherine Reed was a member of a wealthy Jacobite family, who following the failed rebellion of 1745, travelled to Europe and studied under Quentin de la Tour in Paris and Louis-Gabriel Blanchet in Rome. On her return to London in 1754, she quickly established herself as a fashionable portraitist, working primarily in pastel. She gained a powerful patron in Queen Charlotte, who she painted with the infant Prince of Wales in 1761.
The sitter was Diana Sturt, born 1758, a member of the Sturt family of Crichel House, Horton, Dorset and the present pastel which was probably executed circa 1770 hung in the boudoir at Crichel. She is depicted here in a Turkish inspired costume and holding her cittern, an indication of her passionfor music, which continued throughout her life. In 1776 she married Sir William Mordaunt Milner, Bt., and was painted many times throughout her life, notably by George Romney, Nathanial Hone and Sir Thomas Lawrence.