Said to have been given by Empress Catherine II of Russia [1729-1796] to Prince Aleksandr Andreyevich Bezborodko [1747-1799], her secretary of petitions and later imperial chancellor; given by him to Prince Viktor Pavlovich Kochubei [1768-1834], Russian diplomat and statesman. (Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi, Rome); purchased July 1932 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1939 to NGA.
The support is a medium-weight, plain-weave fabric with irregular threads throughout and is identical in thickness and weave to that of the pendant. A thick white ground was applied unevenly with a broad brush and toned with a reddish brown imprimatura. The oil paint has been applied evenly in layers of medium thickness and brushed wet-into-wet. The sequence of the paint layers corresponds to that of the companion: the composition was blocked in and a brown imprimatura applied to the area designated as background; the figure was painted wet-into-wet, with delicate blended brushstrokes in the face and broader handling for the costume; the flower and details of the face were completed last and impasto highlights added as required. Examination by infrared reflectography suggested that the composition was laid out with paint containing carbon black pigments. It also revealed that numerous compositional changes were made during the evolution of the final design: the sitter originally leaned against what appears to be the back of a chair; her bottom lip was originally lower than its present position; her hand was added after the costume was completed.
The painting has been restretched onto a stretcher slightly larger than the painted surface. There are small losses and abrasion throughout, which have been extensively inpainted. The varnish is very slightly discolored. About 1933 the painting was relined, discolored varnish was removed, and the painting was restored by Stephen Pichetto.
- Frankfurter, Alfred M. "Eighteenth Century Venice in a New York Collection." The Fine Arts 19 (December 1932): 10, repro. 7.
- Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 174, no. 219.
- Book of Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 243, repro. 181.
- Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 240, repro.
- Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 117.
- European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 104, repro.
- Nikolenko, Lada. "Pietro Rotari in Russia and America." The Connoisseur 171 (July 1969): 195, fig. 1.
- Fredericksen, Burton B., and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972: 179.
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Italian Schools, XVI-XVIII Century. London, 1973: 157, fig. 299.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 310, repro.
- Shapley, Fern Rusk. Catalogue of the Italian Paintings. 2 vols. Washington, 1979: I:412, II:pl. 292.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 356, repro.
- De Grazia, Diane, and Eric Garberson, with Edgar Peters Bowron, Peter M. Lukehart, and Mitchell Merling. Italian Paintings of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1996: 244-248, color repro. 247.
- Percival, Melissa. Fragonard and the Fantasy Figure: Painting the Imagination. Burlington, Vt., 2012: xii, 150, fig. 4.19.