Leighton had visited Damascus in 1873, and the fabrics and the architectural setting probably derive from that trip. The stringed instrument is a Turkish ‘saz’. The two girls are however European, and the younger one is Connie Gilchrist (1865-1946), a celebrated child dancer and pantomime artiste noted for her beautiful hair, who also modelled for Whistler and Frank Holl among other painters. Lewis Carroll took her to see the Royal Academy exhibition in 1877, and recorded in his diary that she had enjoyed seeing herself in Leighton’s pictures. Later she became a popular actress, but gave up the stage in 1892 when she married the Earl of Orkney.