Petr Stepanovich Valuev held important official positions at the Romanov court throughout his life. Tsar Paul I elevated Valuev to the position of Gentleman of the Bedchamber in 1772. By 1791, his ministerial powers at court increased to include the positions of Privy Councillor and Master of Ceremonies. Under Tsar Alexander I, Valuev was trusted to head the Kremlin Expedition. Throughout his time at court, Valuev expressed a specific interest in Russia's commemorative history and is credited with preserving many historical monuments (Selinova, op. cit., p. 59). Another portrait of Valuev after Rossi, a print by E. I. Skotnikov of 1811, is illustrated in Selinova, op. cit., pl. XLIV, no. 44, cat. no. 77 and described p. 78.
Galina N. Komelova (op. cit., p. 332) praises the work of Petr Osipovich Rossi, better known as Pietro de Rossi, thus: 'His works remarkable not only for the virtuosity and brilliant colouring, but for highlighting strong features of the model, have survived in very small numbers.' In fact, apart from the present lot, which is his earliest dated enamel miniature, only six other enamels by Rossi are known: the head of a lady, formerly in the London trade (unknown to Selinova); a lady with long curls, in the Louvre (INV. RF 30936; Selinova no. 56); a gentleman in profile, signed and dated Moscow 1809 (French private collection; unknown to Selinova); Prince Dmitry Mikhailovich Golytsin, signed and dated Moscow 1810 (illustrated L. R. Schidlof, op. cit., IV, pl. 502 no. 1025; Selinova no. 19); a gentleman, signed and dated Moscow 1811 (Baltimore, Walters Art Museum; illustrated Komelova, op. cit., p. 232, no. 78; Selinova no. 20); a nobleman called Prince N. S. Volkonsky, signed, ca 1812 (sold Christie's, London, 6 December 2005, lot 180; Selinova no. 14).