This lesser known painting is likely to now reside within a private collection as those in public galleries tend to have been researched in much greater detail. The lady in front of us here wears a predominantly black outfit in relatively thin material. There appears to be a pretty red flower motif on her dress, but this may actually have neem a real flower in her hand - it is hard to tell from the digital images that we have available. Her dress has detailed touches around the sleeves and chestline and the woman also wears long sleeves which were very fashionable for the middle and upper classes during this period. Her skin is noticeably pale, though with reddened cheeks which would have been a sign of good health at this time. Her hair is neatly presented, tidied back to avoid hanging down over her body. Her hair has a touch of light brown or red tone that was popular with this artist, and he often chose models with either of these hair colours.
The artist was classically trained and lived most of his life very much as a part of the establishment which was starting to fall out of fashion across Europe as new artists sought to change the art landscape completely. Some started to see this artist's work as old fashioned or lacking in ambition but the impressive technical qualities were still enough for many, whilst others simply adored the charming scenes that he produced. Formal portraits such as this one of Mrs Charles Schreiber would not have done anything to convince new followers to join him, but perhaps they were not intended for this purpose in any case, and were more about pleasing his friends and family who would sometimes request portraits from him in this manner.
John William Waterhouse is just one of a large number of highly skilled portrait painters to have come from the UK. Whilst this region remains best known for its landscape paintings, there have also been a number that specialised within this alternative genre. One name that springs to mind is Anthony van Dyck, and although from the European mainland, he would work extensively within the UK and famously was well known to Charles I, an eccentric monarch who was highly passionate about the arts himself. Some of Van Dyck's most notable artworks from an extensive career included the likes of Portrait of Olivia Boteler Porter, Queen Henrietta Maria with Sir Jeffrey Hudson and James Stuart Duke of Lennox and Richmond, with many more besides those available to those who delve deeper into his impressive career. There have been a number of famous artists to have settled within the UK over the past few centuries, and many more such as Claude Monet who have spent extended spells here, learning about the unique elements of this island nation.