Ivan Khrutskii was born into a family descended from Polish gentry, in the village of Ulla, Vitebsk (in present-day Belarus). He studied at the Faculty of Liberal Arts at the Polotsk Lyceum before moving to St Petersburg, where he enrolled at the Academy of Arts in 1830. Khrutskii was awarded a silver medal by the Academy in 1836 for his still lifes and a gold medal for his portrait 'Old woman knitting a stocking', 1838 (Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow).
Khrutskii's early still lifes were simple, with few objects, but by the late 1830s his compositions became more sophisticated and were met with admiration by both the public and critics. While Khrutskii achieved particular success with his still lifes, he was also an accomplished painter of portraits and landscapes, having studied under George Dawe, R.A., before enrolling at the St Petersburg Academy. In the mid-1830s, under the influence of Karl Briullov, he began to paint half-length portraits incorporating baskets of flowers or fruit. The result was such works as 'Portrait of a young woman with a basket' (fig. 1) and the present picture, 'Portrait of a young woman holding a basket of grapes'.
The present model appears frequently in Khrutskii's works and is purported to be the artist's wife.