Millicent Foster (1849-1892), traditionally believed to be the sitter for this drawing, was the daughter of General Sir Charles John Foster of the 16th Lancers, KCB (1818-1896), and the first wife of Sir Trevor Chichele-Plowden (1846-1905). She was born in Suffolk and, after their marriage in 1870, travelled with her husband to India where they resided in Hyderabad. It is unknown exactly when Burne-Jones executed this drawing but it is dated to the year after Millicent’s death, when the drawing was given to her niece, Editha Plowden, the daughter of Sir Trevor’s brother George (1810-1871).
Born in Calcutta, India, Editha Plowden (1854-1947) (known as Edith, or ‘Cozzie’ to her family) was educated in Hove, Sussex. In May 1875 Editha attended a dinner party where she met Alice and John Lockwood Kipling, who shortly became her closest friends in India, as did their son, the author and poet Rudyard Kipling. Alice Kipling was the sister of Georgiana Burne-Jones. Following her parents’ deaths by 1871, Editha had moved to India to live with her elder brother and guardian, Sir Henry Meredyth Plowden (1840-1920), a senior Government official in Lahore. Editha regularly spent evenings with the Kiplings where they enjoyed discussing music, poetry and art.
By 1891 Editha had returned to England giving her occupation as wood carver, a skill also enjoyed by Georgiana Burne-Jones. She had studied painting in Paris in the studio of Carolus Duran, but on returning to London she joined the School of Art Wood-carving under W.H. Grimwood. In 1893, the year she was given the drawing, she won a first-class teacher’s certificate. By 1910 Editha was living in Knebworth in a cottage designed as part of a large local scheme by Edwin Lutyens for Editha’s cousin, Victor Bulwer-Lytton, 2nd Earl of Lytton, who had married Pamela Chichele-Plowden, Millicent’s daughter.