It is rare to find any portraits of this style within the artist's career. Normally Waterhouse wanted to place his female figures within much more complex scenes, sometimes with other figures and almost always within an outdoor environment. Literature would regularly inspire his paintings but in the case of this painting he is perhaps working to commission or simply offering a member of his extended family the opportunity to sit for him. Whilst not a model herself, Miss Claire Kenworthy is still actually fairly well suited to this artist's work, with pale skin and a youthful appearance which does not diverge too far from his normal choices of muse. She is dressed elegantly in a long white dress and Waterhouse chooses to deliver a half-length portrait, cropping out anything from around the knee area and below. Although not in quite his typical style, this is still a stunning portrait which deserves its place within this prestigious artist's career.
This particular painting was sold at auction in 2009 for £21,250 at Christie's in London, UK. They regularly auction off lesser known items from his career, though his most famous paintings will rarely be sold on and are now exceptionally valuable. There is very little information provided on this artwork, unfortunately, but we do know that until recently it was owned by the Kenworthy family and so would have been passed down through the generations prior to being sold fairly recently. Waterhouse would go onto produce a number of other formal portraits, such as Portrait of Mrs Charles Schreiber and Miss Betty Pollock and was very comfortable, technically, in doing so but one assumes that this was never his favourite way of working and was more of a sign of respect to his friends and family that he was willing to work in a more traditional manner in order to satisfy their own tastes.
British art has a long history with portraiture, with most having been fairly formal until around the mid 19th century where new styles started to bed-in. Waterhouse himself was highly accomplished in the techniques of portraiture, but liked the challenge of placing such models within more complex arrangements. Others, particularly from previous centuries, have stuch much more closely to the standard postures of this genre, including the likes of Anthony van Dyck who was one of the most accomplished of all. Some of his career highlights included Charles I at the Hunt, Charles I in Three Positions and Self-Portrait with a Sunflower, although it is unlikely that he would have been a direct influence on Waterhouse, based on the background information that we have on the latter's early education.