Rosalba never discarded the pastellist's technique when working in oil. In the present works, the application of the paint is dry and feathery and the colouring remains noticeably soft and matt. The dramatic backgrounds embodying further references to the subject are identical to Rosalba's pastels, while the typically elegant hands are characteristically modelled, reflecting Rosalba's certain understanding of anatomy as well as facial features.
An engraving by John Simon (1675-1751) of the present lot, showing exact replications of the four poses, has been dated to the 1730s, thus further indicating their early English provenance. The inscription on the plates reads: Rosalba, pinxt. J. Simon, fecit. The publisher is also given as John Simon, from the Golden Eagle in Villers Street York Buildings. Simon was one of the leading mezzotint engravers of his day, particularly noted for his portraits after Kneller and Dahl. In 1775, the plates were reworked by Richard Houston, and were inscribed: Rosalba, pinxt; Houston, fecit, 1775.
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