The subject of the present painting is Artemisia, the widow of Mausolus, satrap of Caria in Asia Minor. Upon his death in 353 B.C. she succeeded him as ruler, erecting a great monument to his memory at Halicarnassus, which became one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and gave us the word 'mausoleum'. Artemisia further honored her husband by drinking his ashes mized with wine, making herself into a living tomb and symbolizing spousal devotion.
Prof. Mina Gregori originally suggested the attribution to Tarchiani (private communication with Professor Held).