What's more, because of the portrait made for her husband, it's likely that this painting was commissioned as a marriage portrait. Suzanna Beckford became a very rich woman after she inherited her father's fortune, Richard Love of Basing Park in Hampshire. The 1755 London Magazine newspaper estimated Susanna's wealth at £20,000. Suzanna married Francis Beckford at the beginning of 1755. He was one of the 9 children of Peter Beckford, who was the Governor of Jamaica. His wealth came from trade with slaves and sugar. Francis' marriage to Susanna was his second. His first wife had died in 1754.
The lady wears an opaque turquoise blue dress with silver silk trimmings and silk lace. The headdress made of feathers and ribbons is carefully placed on her dark and unpowdered hair. And she wears fine jewelry such as clip-on earrings and 2 dark silk bracelets. One of the bracelets features the portrait of a man wearing a blue coat and the other features a lady in red. However, the identity of these characters remains unknown.
It's likely that Mrs. Beckford's sittings served only for her facial features and overall pose. Also, because of the dress's details, it's highly possible that Reynolds used a talented drapery painter such as his assistant Giuseppe Marchi. Despite there's no record of the portrait's cost, Reynold's would charge about 24 guineas for a half-length portrait like this painting. However, exactly how much the drapery painter received remains a mystery.
The Suzanna Beckford portrait is an exquisite masterpiece detailing the elegance and style of a wealthy woman. The incredible details of the attire make it a statement for the period. What's more, Mrs. Beckford's unusual pose featuring her left arm placed on her hip derives from the portrait of William by Sir Anthony Van Dyck.