This portrait is first recorded in 1923, when it was sold as one of a pair, with a "Portrait of Monsieur de la Hache" which measures 31 3/4 by 25 3/8 inches and is signed and dated "Drouais 1769." The presumed pendant (private collection), which is two years later in date, shows a gentleman at half-length with his arms crossed and wearing a powdered wig, a watered silk coat and waistcoat, and fine lace. A curtain and bookcase comprise the background.
Several artists, notably Jean Raoux (1677–1734) and Jean Marc Nattier (1685–1766), had depicted portrait sitters in the guise of a vestal virgin, including several of the royal princesses, who were unmarried, and others who sat, as may be presumed in the present case, when they were about to marry. The vestals were Roman guardians of the hearth and house who were chosen for their youth and purity; hence the presence of what might have been a table but is instead a brazier. The gold-trimmed robe does not constitute contemporary dress but is instead a costume, and the way in which the young woman lifts the veil is quite typical for the subject.
[Katharine Baetjer 2011]