This work was painted several decades after the publication of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s ‘Turkish Embassy Letters’ (1763), written when Montagu’s husband was British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. The book inspired such an interest in Ottoman dress in Britain that it became fashionable attire for masquerades or masquerade portraits, like this example.
Priscilla Bertie (later Lady Gwydyr) was the daughter of Peregrine Bertie, third Duke of Ancaster. She grew up at Grimsthorpe Castle, the Ancaster's country estate in Lincolnshire, and married politician Sir Peter Burrell, First Baron Gwydyr in 1779. The family’s residence was Gwydyr House, Whitehall. In 1779, Priscilla’s brother, Robert Bertie, fourth Duke of Ankaster, 20th Baron Willoughby de Eresby and Lord Great Chamberlain, died. The dukedom passed to his uncle while, after a delay, the barony of Willoughby de Eresby passed to Priscilla, the eldest sibling. The office of Lord Great Chamberlain was divided between Priscilla and her sister, the Countess of Cholmondeley, who together had the power to appoint a deputy not below the rank of Knight. Burrell was later knighted and appointed to the position.
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