This painting was originally commissioned by Count Heinrich the 26th von Reuss-Ebersdorf and Lobenstein. The sitter for the portrait is his 18 year old daughter, the Countess Augusta von Reuss-Ebersdorf and Lobenstein (1757-1831). The purpose of the commission was to woo potential suitors and was exhibited at the Permanent Reichstag in Regensburg, Germany. It attracted the attention of the 25 year old Crown Prince Franz Friedrich Anton, Duke von Saxony-Coburg-Saalfeld and he fell in love with her. They were married in 1777 and had nine children together.
The countess here models for the artist in the double guise of a potential aristocratic bride and as Artemisia. Artemisia was the wife of King Mausolus in Harlicarnassus during 353 BC. Upon his death, in a deep despair, she consumes his ashes in a goblet of wine. It is appropriate that Tischbein chose to represent the Countess in this role, the story of Artemisia reflects perhaps the steadfast bond and devotional love she would find in the Crown Prince.
Tischbein the Elder, known as the Kasseler Tischbein, was one of the most respected European painters in the 18th Century and the most important member of the four generations of Tischbeins. He is known mainly for his portraits of the nobility, mythological scenes and historical paintings.