Painted for the sitter's mother, Elizabeth, Duchess of Hamilton and Brandon [1734-1790]; by descent through her second husband, John, 5th Duke of Argyll [1723-1806], to George, 8th Duke of Argyll [1723-1806]; (sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 17 March 1855, no. 91); bought by the King for Welbore Ellis, 2nd Earl of Normanton [1778-1868], Somerley, Hampshire; by descent to Sidney, 4th Earl of Normanton [1865-1933]; sold 22 March 1909 to (Thos. Agnew & Sons, London); sold the same day to (Arthur J. Sulley & Co., London); purchased 1909 by Peter A.B. Widener, Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania; inheritance from Estate of Peter A.B. Widener by gift through power of appointment of Joseph E. Widener; gift 1942 to NGA.
- Works by the Old Masters, and by Deceased Masters of the British School. Winter Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1882, no. 33.
- Leslie, Charles Robert and Tom Taylor. Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds. 2 vols. London, 1865: 1:161.
- Graves, Algernon and William Vine Cronin. A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds. 4 vols. London, 1899-1901: 1:repro. opp. 224; 2:422-423.
- Armstrong, Sir Walter. Sir Joshua Reynolds. London, 1900: 210.
- Roberts, William. Pictures in the Collection of P.A.B. Widener at Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania: British and Modern French Schools, Philadelphia, 1915: unpaginated, repro.
- Paintings in the Collection of Joseph Widener at Lynnewood Hall. Intro. by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1923: unpaginated, repro.
- Paintings in the Collection of Joseph Widener at Lynnewood Hall. Intro. by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1931: 174, repro.
- Waterhouse, Sir Ellis. Reynolds. London, 1941: 11, 43-44, pl. 43.
- Paintings and Sculpture from the Widener Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1948 (reprinted 1959): 81, repro., as Lady Betty Hamilton.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 319, repro., as Lady Betty Hamilton.
- Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 114, as Lady Betty Hamilton.
- Roberts, Keith. Reynolds. (The Masters series, no. 31.) Paulton, Near Bristol, London, 1966: pl. 3.
- European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 101, repro., as Lady Betty Hamilton.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 304, repro.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: no. 503, color repro.
- Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 92, pl. 80.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 361, no. 501, color repro., as Lady Betty Hamilton.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 349, repro.
- Hayes, John. British Paintings of the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 210-212, repro. 211.
The canvas is plain woven; it has been lined, and was relined in 1944. The ground is thinly applied; its color is difficult to determine. The painting is executed thinly, with thicker paint in the flesh tones and impasto in the highlights of the dress and bouquet. The blue background was applied beneath the hair, and is revealed, through losses in this area, to have been intense in color; it is uncertain whether this was the intensity of blue intended by Reynolds for the sky, or whether it was to be toned or glazed to give the somber tone it has now. The paint surface seems to have been abraded. Some of the flesh tones may have faded. There is some retouching, but there are also scattered losses overall that have not been inpainted. The natural resin varnish has discolored yellow to a significant degree.