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This portrait was originally exhibited as 'A Lady in a Brown Dress' but became known as 'The Parson's Daughter' in the later nineteenth century, when there was a fashion for giving such imaginative titles to portraits of anonymous sitters. The picture is considered to be an actual portrait rather than a 'fancy-piece', although the identity of the sitter is not known. A pencil sketch of the same subject is in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
Romney was one of the most successful fashionable portrait painters of his time and a close rival of Reynolds and Gainsborough. His female portraits were particularly admired for their embodiment of the womanly virtues of chastity, simplicity and grace.

September 2004