We are grateful to Dr. Stella Rudolph for confirming that she will publish the present picture in her forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Maratti's paintings, and for informing us that she considers it to be one of the series of 'donne illustri' painted for the Roman banker Francesco Montioni c.1694-5 and mentioned by Bellori in his biography of Maratti; a Cleopatra from the same series is in the Museo di Palazzo Venezia, Rome.
In Roman legend, Tuccia was a Vestal Virgin who was accused of adultery but proved her innocence by filling a sieve with water and miraculously carrying it without it leaking; she is thus a symbol of chastity.
Among the small group of old masters formerly at Cullen House were two other large Italian canvases of significance, Ludovico Carracci's Presentation in the Temple, now in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection and a Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple by Pietro Faccini. It is tempting to suppose that these and the present picture were acquired by Sir James Grant (1738-1811), possibly on his visit to Rome in 1760. Letters to Grant from the Abbé Peter Grant establish that he was a connoisseur of some note and his tastes are shown by his patronage of Scottish painters in Italy. The 1975 sale included the only known painting by Mengs' pupil Colin Morison; depicting Andromeda offering Sacrifice to Hector's Shade, this was commissioned by Grant in Rome in 1760. Also sold were five paintings by James Clark, who was sent to study painting in Italy at the expense of Grant and Sir Hew Dalrymple in 1768 and remained there until his death in 1799; they included copies after Subleyras, Guercino, Titian and Annibale Carracci commissioned by Grant before 1772. The fact that there is no mention of this or other old masters from the collection among Grant's papers means, however, that it is possible that these were obtained by James Ogilvy, 7th Earl of Findlater and 4th Earl of Seafield (1750-1811), who is known to have acquired a large altarpiece in Rome in the 1780s