Ramsay set the portrait of his wife within a painted oval. His careful handling of the play of light and shadow creates the illusion of a real person existing in palpable space. It reflects his careful observation and creates a freshness and vivacity unmatched in his earlier portraits. The stiffness of Anne's pose suggests this is an early work, probably painted in Edinburgh at the time of the couple's engagement. They married in 1739 and Anne died four years later giving birth to their third child. Anne's father was Professor of Municipal Law at Edinburgh University and her great-grandfather was the architect Sir William Bruce.