The sitter was a daughter of King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies and Queen Maria Carolina. As a child, Maria Amalia's mother and her aunt, Queen Marie Antoinette of France, arranged for her engagement to Marie Antoinette's son, Louis Joseph, Dauphin of France. However her young fiancé died in 1789. While in exile in Italy, she met Louis Philippe of Orléans (see lots 424 and 425) and the pair were married in 1809. This was a controversial match as he was the son of Louis Philippe Joseph of Orléans, a man considered to have played a part in the execution of Maria Amalia’s aunt, Marie Antoinette. Following the 1830 July Revolution, Louis-Philippe and Maria Amalia became King and Queen of the French. As Queen, Maria Amalia was known for her simple personal lifestyle and generous gifts to charity. Following Louis Philippe’s abdication the couple moved to England, and lived at Claremont House, Surrey which is now a National Trust Property.
The present miniature derives from Franz Xaver Winterhalter's full-length portrait of 1842, now in the Museum of Versailles (inv. no. MV5111).