The eldest daughter of George Carpenter, 1st Earl of Tyrconnel (d. 1762), Almeria Carpenter was lady-in-waiting to the wife of Prince William Henry, 1st Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, younger brother of King George III. Described by Sir Nathaniel Wraxall (d. 1831), author, historian and Member of Parliament, as 'one of the most beautiful women of her time' (The historical and the posthumous memoirs of Sir Nathaniel William Wraxall, 1772-1784, ed. H.B. Wheatley, 1884, V, p. 201), Carpenter soon attracted the attentions of her employer's husband and by the early 1780s had become his mistress. In January 1782, she bore him a daughter, Louisa Maria La Coast (d. 1835), who was brought up by Gloucester's steward on a farm at Hampton Court. Carpenter accompanied the Duke and Duchess on their tour of the Continent between 1784 and 1787, and remained in their service on their return to England, being described as the 'ornament', 'pride' and hostess at Gloucester House (Wraxall, ibid.).
A leading portraitist of the Regency era, Cosway is primarily remembered for his work as a miniaturist, however, the present painting testifies to his proficiency in oil painting. Cosway trained under Thomas Hudson and attended William Shipley's drawing classes on the Strand. He was exhibiting at the Royal Society of Artists and the Free Society of Artists in London by 1760, and was one the earliest members of the Royal Academy, being elected an Associate in 1770 and a Royal Academician the following year. His portraits, which flattered their sitters and exhibited a charming lightness of handling and luminosity, were eagerly sought after and he quickly established a busy and successful practice. His patrons included the Prince of Wales, later King George IV, who Cosway painted in 1780; Cosway was appointed Painter to the Prince of Wales in 1785. It may have been through this connection that Cosway came to paint Lady Almeria. In 1781, Cosway married the Anglo-Florentine artist, Maria Hadfield at St. George's, Hanover Sqaure, and they established a salon at their house in Berkeley Street. In 1784, they moved to Schomberg House, Pall Mall, which became the epicentre of fashionable London society. The Cosways were a glamorous and fascinating pair and their preoccupation with taste and fashion, which is reflected in their pictures, was typical of that of fashionable society at the turn of the century.