The sitter was the daughter of Josephine de Beauharnais (1763–1814) and became the stepdaughter of Napoleon Bonaparte after his marriage to Josephine in 1796. In 1802, at Napoleon's request, Hortense married his brother Louis Bonaparte (1778-1846). The couple had three sons. In 1806, Napoleon appointed his brother Louis to be the King of Holland, and Hortense accompanied her husband to The Hague.
The present miniature relates to a full-scale oil by François Gérard (1770–1837) now in a private collection.