This tapestry belongs to a series of portraits of Catherine the Great (empress of Russia 1762-1796) woven at the Gobelins factory under the direction of Pierre-François Cozette. The image is based on a prototype by the Russian painter Fedor Stepanovich Rokotov executed in 1779. It was reported that the Empress was indeed most pleased with the results, writing to her friend and agent Baron Grimm, on the arrival of three copies in St. Petersburg, which she remarked were 'the most beautiful in the world'.
Possibly commissioned as diplomatic gifts or for distribution to her regional governors, as were the famed Gubernatorial Services, to convey, disseminate and reinforce the power and authority of the Empress. Two near identical versions of the tapestry are known to survive in institutional collections, one at The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, probably previously at Tsarkoye Selo (see museum inventory no. ???-16192) and another, bearing a similarly crowned Russian frame at The Hillwood Estate, Washington D.C., bequeathed by the celebrated heiress and collector Marjorie Merriweather Post (see inventory 41.5). Several versions were also recorded in major Russian Collections sold in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with a further version sold, Christie’s, Geneva, 18 November, 1974, lot 64.