The daughter of the medallist and first keeper of the Royal Academy, George Michael Moser (1704-83), Mary Moser was a precocious artist and together with the Swiss-born painter Angelica Kauffmann, was one of only two female artists to be included in 1768 as founding members of the Royal Academy, to which she was a frequent contributor. Moser specialised in flower paintings, a genre in which she attained considerable success. She was commissioned by Queen Charlotte to decorate a room at Frogmore with a scheme of flower pictures in circa 1795.
Moser's portrait was painted by some of the most popular artists of her time, including Francis Cotes (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne), Joseph Nollekens (Paul Mellon Collection, Yale Centre of British Art, New Haven), and John Zoffany included her in his Academicians of the Royal Academy painted in 1771 (Royal Collection).
The present portrait is datable circa 1770-71. It closely relates to another portrait of Moser, once attributed to Angelica Kauffman and more recently believed to be a self-portrait by Moser (Musuem zu Allerheiligen, Sturzenegger-Stiftung, Schaffhausen, see B. Baumgartel, Angelica Kauffmann 1741-1807 Retrospective, Kunstmuseum Dusseldorf, 1988, no. 74). This latter portrait passed by descent in Moser's family and the recent attribution is based upon an overpainted and restored inscription. No other self-portraits by Moser are known.
We are grateful to Alex Kidson for giving his support to the attribution.