The present picture is one of two compositional sketches (for the other, see N. Penny, op. cit., pp. 328-9, no. 154b) executed by the artist for the finished picture which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1774, no. 216 (as Three Ladies adorning a Term of Hymen) and which is now in the Tate Gallery, London.
The sitters are the three daughters of Sir William Montgomery, 1st Bt., of Magbiehill (1717-1788) by his first marriage to Hannah, daughter and co-heir of Alexander Tomkyns of Prehen. Barbara, the youngest (who married as his second wife, on 4 June 1774, the Hon. John Beresford, son of Marcus, 1st Earl of Tyrone, and brother of George de la Poer, 1st Marquess of Waterford) is kneeling to the left gathering flowers; Elizabeth, the eldest, stands in the middle; and Anne (who married, as his second wife, on 19 May 1773, George, 1st Marquess Townshend) stands to the right while decorating a statue of Hymen, the Roman god of marriage.
The picture was commissioned in the early summer of 1773 by the Hon. Luke Gardiner (later 1st Viscount Mountjoy) who was then engaged to Elizabeth Montgomery. They married on 3rd July 1773. Sittings for the sisters are recorded through the summer and autumn of that year.