“Mary Roche was born in Co. Cork, the daughter of James Roche and Mary Brown. James Roche was a descendant of the Viscounts of Fermoy, a significant Irish family whose lineage can be traced back to the Norman invasions of Ireland.
Mary married Judge Stefan Caesar Lemaistre, recorder of Rochester and later a judge of the Supreme Court of Judicature in Bengal, with whom she had three children. In 1779, following the death of Lemaistre, Mary married the Swedish diplomat Baron Gustav Adam von Nolcken (1733-1813), with whom she had a further two sons.
Mary was a renowned beauty whose looks were compared to Mary Antoinette and was a central figure within the fashionable circles of her day. As well as sitting for Smart, Mary was also painted by John Downman later in 1779 (next image). Interestingly, a preparatory drawing by Smart for the present work was illustrated in ‘Walker’s Monthy’ in January 1937, although its present whereabouts is unknown.”