This is Harriet Churchill (c.1726-77), wife of Sir Everard Fawkener, who had been English Ambassador to Constantinople (now Istanbul). The Fawkener family business was the silk trade, referenced here by the threads Lady Fawkener appears to be sorting out from her box. They were married after Sir Everard returned from the Middle East and had become secretary to the Duke of Cumberland, son of King George II. He was 53 at the time and Harriet 21.
Fawkener and the Swiss painter, Jean-Etienne Liotard had become acquainted in the Turkish capital, where the artist produced portraits for members of the British colony. He was known as ‘the Turk’, adopting oriental dress and cultivating an eccentric public image. In the mid-1750s the two met again in London, where this delicate portrait is thought to have been produced. Liotard usually worked in pastel on parchment or vellum, and achieved extraordinary skin tones and rendition of fabrics, particularly lace.
Jean-Etienne Liotard Lady Fawkener About 1760 © Compton Verney