The present lot relates to the picture by Allan Ramsay sold in Christie’s, London on 9 July 2008, lot 150A (see A. Smart, ed. J. Ingamells, Allan Ramsay: A Complete Catalogue of his Paintings, London, 1999, no. 406, fig. 516.).
The sitter was the daughter and heiress of George Speke of White Lackington, Somerset. She married the statesman Frederick Lord North, the eldest son of the 1st Earl of Guilford, who succeeded as the 2nd Earl of Guilford (1732-92) in 1790, in May 1756. Her husband, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer and leader of the House (1767-82) and Prime Minister (1770-82), was painted by Allan Ramsay in 1761 (location unknown; A. Smart, op. cit, p. 166, no. 407, fig. 529). The sitter, who was an amateur painter of some distinction, also sat for a portrait to by Sir Joshua Reynolds (D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, New Haven and London, p. 352, no. 1342, fig. 280), and in the 1760s was painted together with her husband and one of their children (artist unknown). She died in January 1797, leaving four sons and three daughters.
Richard Ramsay Reinagle belonged to the family of artists founded by his father, Philip Reinagle, the son of a Hungarian musician living in Edinburgh. Philip came to London in 1763, at the age of fourteen, becoming a pupil of his adopted compatriot Allan Ramsay. It is a sign of his devotion that, some 12 years later, he would give his son his master’s name. Richard Ramsay’s sisters Fanny and Charlotte would also become painters, as would in turn his own son, George Philip Reinagle. Allan Ramsay’s portrait of Lady North, on which the present work is closely based, is dated 1761 (Christie's, London, 9 July 2008, lot 150A, £421,250), thus shortly before Philip joined the studio, but his son’s artistic lineage no doubt had some bearing on the commission for the present work. Born in the same year as Turner, Richard Ramsay Reinagle belonged to the generation of English artists who spanned the ‘English Golden Age’ and the Victorian period; his works reflect the strong influence of Sir Thomas Lawrence, whose success as a society portraitist he sought to emulate with works such as his Portrait of Edward Vernon, his wife, Charlotte Susannah, Lady Suffield, and his sister Georgiana Mary (Christie’s, London, 11 May 2005, lot 30, £288,000).