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Sir John Anstruther commissioned this portrait of his wife, Janet, along with his own portrait (now in a French private collection). Lady Anstruther, the daughter of a Scottish merchant, was renowned for her beauty and for her reputation as a flirt. Despite her social elevation through marriage to a baronet, on at least one occasion Lady Anstruther was taunted in the streets for her supposed gypsy descent. In Reynolds's portrait, she glides serenely through the grounds of a landed estate, her dress and deportment asserting her right to be recognized among the ranks of the aristocracy.

August 2004