Josephine Dockar-Drysdale, the sitter, was a wealthy 46-year-old widow when Herkomer painted her portrait in 1887. Herkomer had been in high demand as a portraitist since the critical success of his Lady in White at the Royal Academy 3 years earlier. This was a portrait of a younger woman, only 19, but with a similarly direct gaze and white background. Herkomer wrote that he painted it because it had begun ‘to be voiced’ that he could not paint women, so ‘I naturally wished to remove this odium as I was considerably piqued’ (Herkomer,The Herkomers, Macmillan, 1910, vol I, p 133). Herkomer followed it up in 1886 with The Lady in Black, a portrait of another young woman, which was almost as successful. All three of these female portraits display what Lee MacCormick Edwards described as the ‘forceful characterization of individual expression’ (Herkomer: A Victorian Artist, Ashgate, 1999, p 92).