Contemporary critics such as Théophile Gautier, Charles Lenormant, and Jean Baptiste Gustave Planche admired Hippolyte Flandrin and referred to him as the 'Fra Angelico of the 19th Century'. Flandrin also enjoyed the admiration and life-long friendship of his master, Jean Auguste Baptiste Ingres. Ingres wrote of his favourite pupil that 'My Flandrin has surpassed himself...The fine talent and the noble qualities of this dignified young man make me cherish him as a friend' (quoted in Boyer d'Agen, Ingres, d'après une correspondence inedite, Paris, 1909, p. 258-259).
Flandrin is particularly known for his monumental paintings on religious themes, which still decorate the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris, and for his fine portraits. This portrait is a representative example of the latter. Especially typical of Flandrin are the slightly elongated limbs and the rendering of light in the clear skin and eyes of the baroness.
Born into the famous Cologne-based Oppenheim banking family, the sitter married Benoît Fould, who had made his fortune supplying the armies of Napoleon with provisions. The baroness is an ancestor of the present Marquis de Ravenel.