By painting Mrs Violet Hammersley in the tradition of artists such as Gainsborough, Steer gave added resonance to his subject. The pose of Mrs Hammersley was probably based on François Boucher’s portrait of Madame de Pompadour c.1760 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London).
Recalling her time sitting for the painting with great fondness Mrs Hammersley commented: ‘I sat to him all through the winter and spring and into the summer of 1907, and we had near a hundred sittings. These took place at 109 Cheyne Walk, and I sat on a sofa at the end of his charming drawing room … The sitting lasted about three hours and I do not remember ever being bored for a moment’. (quoted in MacColl, 1945)