We are grateful to Edgar Munhall for confirming the attribution to Greuze and in a written communication dated 9 December 2003 he states: 'The present [picture], in my opinion, appears to be an autograph work by Jean-Baptiste Greuze... It may possibly be the same painting on panel that I examined in Paris in the collection of the Baronne Edouard de Rothschild in June 1964. The dimensions I noted at the time were nearly identical: 66 x 53.2 cm.'
The significance of the subject was touched on by the artist in a letter, 20 April 1790, to Prince Yousoupoff regarding a similar subject (L'Oiseau favori) that he had just painted for him: 'This dove which she presses against her heart so lovingly is nothing but the image of her love concealed beneath this emblem; her soul is moved with a sentiment so sweet and so pure that the most delicate woman could look at it with satisfaction, without being offended.' (quoted in L. Réau, 'Greuze et la Russie', Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de l'Art français, 1922, p. 285)
Two versions of the same subject, both on canvas, were sold, one at Sotheby's, New York, 3 June 1988, no. 117A ($187,000) and another, more recently at Christie's, New York, 30 May 2003, lot 39 ($180,000).