This is Prud'hon's preliminary drawing, probably done in front of Empress Marie-Louise, for the slightly larger chalk portrait on blue paper, now in a private collection, S. Laveissire, Prud'hon ou le rve du bonheur, exhib. cat., Paris, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, 1998, fig. 145a. The technique and paper are similar to that of the sketches drawn by Prud'hon in his earlier sketchbooks in the Louvre and in a private collection, S. Laveissire, op. cit., nos. 13-4.
Prud'hon was Emperor Marie-Louise's professor of drawing when he was asked to paint a portrait of his patron. Unfortunately, he was too slow, and the commission was eventually awarded to Grard and Lefvre in 1812. The present drawing probably dates from that period. Prud'hon was also involved in the decorations for the wedding of Empress Marie-Louise and Emperor Napoleon (see previous lot) and in the design for furniture given by the City of Paris to the Empress on her wedding.