This is a portrait of the artist's twenty-seven year old sister. At the time it was drawn Hester had been married for five years to her cousin Captain Nathaniel Smith of the East India Company. Nathaniel Dance and Hester were the children of the architect George Dance (1695-1768) who designed the Mansion House in the City of London. Nathaniel had studied in Rome between 1754 and 1765 and was an early exponent of the neo-classical style in painting. However, he made his name as a portraitist. This is the largest known portrait drawing by him. It dates from the same year that he showed portraits of King George III and his Queen at the first exhibition of the newly founded Royal Academy.
Gallery label, September 2004