With this ausdruckskopf, or 'expression head', Mengs represented an ideal based on ancient models rather than depicting an actual person. A version, en grisaille, of the painting formerly in the Barberini Collection, Rome (S. Roettgen, Anton Raphael Mengs 1728-1779. Das malerische und ziechnerische Werk, Munich, 1999, p. 332-3, no. 268), it is possible that the present picture was executed in preparation for the version in color, enabling the artist to fix contrasts and tonal variations. Roettgen points to the statue of the Head of Niobe in the Uffizi, Florence, as particularly relevant for the posture, proportion, facial expression, and similarities in the formation of the drapery. Mengs is known to have studied the sculpture in the original at length in 1770, and it is probable that the present work was painted during his stay in Florence in 1770-1. Interestingly, it is believed that one of Mengs's daughters posed as a life model for the picture, enabling and inspiring him to adapt the pose. While there is no specific evidence to support this theory, the painting achieved some fame in the late nineteenth century due to a photograph in the Vatican Museum collection (number 1153, probably Brogi Archive), that described the painting as La Figlia di Raffael Mengs. A Trompe l'oeil by the late nineteenth-century Roman artist, Francesco Alegiani includes the photograph of the painting along with Guido Reni's iconic portrait of Beatrice Cenci. (Sotheby's Olympia, 31 October 2002, lot 17).