Nicolas de Largillière's long career spanned the reigns of both Louis XIV and Louis XV, during which time he established himself as a leading portrait painter. His depictions of women are particularly striking for their introspective character and decorative richness.
The woman depicted in this portrait is said to have the features of the Duchess of Beaufort, an English aristocrat whom Largillière is thought to have painted when she visited Paris. Whoever she is, the model looks straight at the viewer with a slight smile, as though addressing them. Largillière was careful not only to convey the model's psychological presence, but also to highlight her sumptuous attire. The deep blue velvet, intricate lace and orange gown are painted in bold strokes, worthy of the Flemish masters whom Largillière admired. The bright colours in the foreground are softened somewhat by the autumnal hues of the landscape in the background, in a superbly effective harmony that brings out the dignity and beauty of the model.