Anton van Welie has depicted the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova (1881-1931) in her most famous role. After the outbreak of World War I, Pavlova did not return to her native Russia, but chose to settle in London, from where she toured the world with her own ballet company. Her last performance took place in 1930. She died in Hotel des Indes in The Hague in 1931. An earlier portrait of Anna Pavlova by the artist is in the collection of Museum Mesdag, The Hague.
The original owner, Anton du Mée, imported French films into the Netherlands. The present lot was probably acquired by Du Mée on the occasion of the screening of the ballet film 'La mort du cygne' in the Rialto Cinema, Amsterdam, in 1938.