Known for her exciting social life and as Karl Briullov's (1799-1852) muse, Countess Julia Samoilova (née Pahlen) moved to Milan shortly after divorcing her first husband Nikolai Samoilov (1800-1842). There the wealthy countess frequented high society events and became a great patron of artists and writers. In 1927 she met Karl Briullov in Rome, who, entranced by her beauty, captured her likeness in a multitude of portraits created over the years of their intimate relationship.
Wilhelm Richter was a 19th century Austrian painter of portraits and hunting scenes. He studied at the Vienna Academy and became known for his depiction of military campaigns, witnessed while serving as a war painter. In the present painting, the artist depicts Samoilova in her salon in Milan surrounded by Austrian hussars; in the background Bruillov's famous portrait of the hostess is visible. Previously enriching Samoilova's residences in St Petersburg and Milan, Bruillov's portrait now forms part of the collection of Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, Washington, D.C.