The subject of this portrait, Phillippa Garrett Fawcett was the daughter of the pioneer suffragist Millicent Fawcett and won early fame by achieving high marks in the Mathematics Tripos at Cambridge University- at the time women were not admitted to the University's degrees. It is said that Fawcett inspired William Morris to use her name for one of the characters in his novel 'News From Nowhere'. 'Mistress Philippa' is the skilled stone-carver whom William Guest meets during his journey up the Thames to Kelmcott.
The portrait is by Harold Steward Rathbone, after studying at the Slade School and in Paris, Rathbone worked as a pupil of Ford Madox Brown, assisting him with the murals at Manchester Town Hall. He played an active role in the Arts and Crafts Movement and in 1893 set up the Della Robbia Art Pottery in Birkenhead.