The sale and dispersal of the contents of British country houses in the 1890s produced a revival of interest in the great period of English portraiture. Gainsborough, Reynolds and Romney returned to popularity with a new cadre of wealthy British and American industrialists, to such an extent that contemporary painters like Lavery and Sargent were often asked to produce pictures which overtly imitated 18th Century mannerisms. Full-length portraiture now imported the paraphernalia of drapery, columns and distant views of parklands, where there once had been only the briefest indications of a piece of furniture or an interior. Lavery interpreted the requirements in these terms when he was commissioned to paint the portrait of Baroness Gertrude von Chappuis, Mrs F.A. Konig, around 1910.
Frederick Adolphus Konig, the sitter's husband who commissioned the portrait, was an American banker from New York. The family fortune originated with his father who had patented a process for hardening rubber. Konig moved to Britain in around 1890, as one of the first of a veritable invasion of rich Americans, described in the novels of James and Wharton. He purchased Tyringham in Buckinghamshire in 1907. Designed by Sir John Soane and built between 1792 and 1797, the house was remodelled in part by Sir Edwin Lutyens after its acquisition by Konig. Lutyens added a bathing pavilion and built a Temple of Music, thought to be the première idée for his scheme at New Delhi. The pergola, seen in the background of the present portrait is also thought to be a Lutyens addition. Indeed, Lavery may have received his commission to paint Mrs Konig on Lutyens' recommendation, since the present picture was designed specifically to occupy a recess above one of the mantlepieces at Tyringham.
Gertrude von Chappuis, Mrs Konig, was lady-in-waiting to Princess Marie Louise. She was an accomplished pianist and as a result of her impeccable connections with Lutyens and with members of the royal family is one of those credited with the idea of the Queen's Doll's House at Windsor.