The sitter was one of the great courtesans of her day. Little is known of her early life, but she was presumably born Anne, or Nancy, Parsons, the daughter of a Bond Street tailor. She accompanied a slave trader named Horton, or Houghton, to the West Indies, returning to London as Mrs. Horton. In 1763 she was the mistress of Augustus Henry FitzRoy, third Duke of Grafton, and later, in 1769, of John Frederick Sackville, third Duke of Dorset. In 1776 she married Charles Maynard, second Viscount Maynard, who, at twenty-three, was probably at least a decade younger than she. In 1784 she began an affair with the nineteen-year-old Francis Russell, fifth Duke of Bedford. She is reported to have died in France in the winter of 1814–15.