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Like many grand portraits of women in the eighteenth century, this picture was commissioned to mark the sitter’s marriage. She is Mary Palmer (1760-1848), who married Sir Thomas Beauchamp-Proctor in March 1778 (his portrait can be seen on the other end of this wall). She is shown decorating a statue of Hymen, the Roman god of marriage, with flowers. These classical references and her richly painted costume are meant to evoke the noble art of the past. Her hair, however, is piled high in the fashion of the day.

February 2010