Born in 1842, Alexej Harlamoff first attended the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, where he was taken with works of the Dutch master Rembrandt Harmensz. Van Rijn and frequently copied his work. He established himself as a successful artist in his native land, and according to an 1892 biography, he 'painted the portraits of many distinguished members of Russian aristocracy.'
Like many Russian artists at the end of the nineteenth century, Alexej Harlamoff left his native country in order to establish a painting career in Paris. Although first established as a portrait painter, Harlamoff's source of greatest fame came from his romanticized images of children and young girls. He was a regular contributor to the Paris Salon and received a second-class medal at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1878.