The Duchess of Devonshire was renowned for spirited personality, informal manners, and studied casualness of dress. Here, however, she appears exceedingly dignified and reserved. These are qualities that her mother, who commissioned the painting, would have appreciated, but that did not actually characterize her daughter. The duchess created a sensation with her careless manner of dressing, but Reynolds portrays her with stately propriety. She bears a quiet expression and makes calm, graceful hand gestures. Even the ostrich plumes in her hair, which were known to reach towering heights, have been restrained.