Margaret Hay was the eldest daughter of John Hay, 1st Marquess of Tweeddale, who was a leading figure in Scottish politics. After the Glorious Revolution of 1688, John Hay held key political posts such as Lord of the Treasury and Lord High Chancellor of Scotland. This portrait of his daughter was painted several years earlier, probably around the time of her marriage to Robert, 3rd Earl of Roxburghe, in 1675. She holds an arch lute of a type that was particularly popular in Britain and the Netherlands in the mid-seventeenth century. The artist, Gerard Soest, is known for the unflattering truthfulness of his likenesses, which made him unpopular with female sitters. The dislike was mutual and he is said to have refused painting any women for seven years.