The sitters were the daughters of Johann Julius von Vieth und Golssenau (1713-1784), the Saxon courtier and counsellor who was, amongst other positions, the Master of Ceremonies at the Court in Dresden. A keen art collector and patron, von Vieth was a friend of many of the leading figures in the artistic milieu of Baroque Saxony, including such figures as Daniel Chodowiecki and Adrian Zingg, as well as presumably Graff himself. This picture is presumably that noted on 17 November 1775 in Dresden by Daniel Chodowiecki (who in 1775 engraved a portrait of von Vieth; see Berckenhagen, loc. cit.), to shortly before when it should therefore be dated.
Graff was the foremost society painter of late-eighteenth-century Dresden. A pupil of Johann Ulrich Schellenburg in Winterthur and Johann Jakob Haid in Augsburg, he worked for the court painter Leonhard Schneider (1716-62) in Ansbach from 1757 to 1759, and subsequently as a miniaturist in Regensburg (1764-5). In 1766, he was appointed court painter to the Elector Friedrich-Christian in Dresden and taught at the Hochschule der Bildende Künste there; he was invited several times to teach at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, but remained based in Dresden, although he travelled widely through Germany, Bohemia and Switzerland.
Most of Graff's work consisted of portraits of the aristocracy and newly enriched professional classes of Saxony and Prussia, and his work forms an invaluable pictorial record of that group; he was, in addition, the main portrait painter of German poets between the Enlightenment and the early Romantic periods. The present work is a very rare example in Graff's oeuvre of a group portrait; of particularly high quality, it ably illustrates the fluid brushwork and elegant imagery that so endeared Graff to his patrons.