Elisaveta, a great niece of Potemkin, met Mikhail Vorontsov (see lot 264) in Paris when she was 23 and married him there in 1819. Born into one of the oldest Polish families, she brought with her a huge family fortune. The couple returned to Russia in 1823 where her husband became governor of the Caucasus until 1844. They richly entertained in their magnificent palace in Odessa, and this is where the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin became a member of her salon. He addressed many lyrical poems to her and they became very close. Count Sollogub described her as 'Short, podgy, with slightly heavy and irregular features, Princess Vorontsova was nevertheless one of the most captivating women of her time. Her whole personality was full of such a sweet and ravishing grace, such a charisma, of a natural elegance, that it is easy to see how men like Pushkin, Raevsky and many, many others fell head over heels in love with her'.
For a watercolour portrait of the same sitter by the Viennese miniaturist Josef Eduard Teltscher (1801-1837), see Alexander Pushkin and His Time in the Fine Arts of the First Half of the 19th Century, Leningrad, 1985, fig. 88. This watercolour and the present miniature were painted around 1835/1837 in Vienna where the Countess stayed with her ill daughter.