The "Portinaia" was probably modeled in 1883, the date reported by Rosso, or in 1884 at the very latest, taking Sciora Orsola, the concierge of a building on Via Montebello in Milan in which the artist lived, as a model. Locked up in her guardhouse, the artist developed a strong fixation on her.
Rosso made at least 12 replicas of this subject, since he considered this sculpture—a reinterpretation of the former Sacristan—to be a turning point in his artistry, as it pertains to defining his own unique point of view and capturing a fleeting impression.
Made of a blend of very clear wax, this is the only artwork that the sculptor donated to the Galleria d'Arte Moderna in Milan in 1922. The museum records report that the piece was replaced by Francesco Rosso at the end of 1952, due to "significant damages causing its destruction." These were perhaps caused by the evacuation during the war. Actually, Francesco recovered the damaged work, restored it, and then placed it in the Rosso Museum in Barzio. In exchange for this waxwork, the bronze "Ruffiana" statue was donated to the Milan museum. This was crafted under his direction, as evidenced by a letter from Costantino Baroni to Francesco Rosso dated November 10, 1952 and acts by the Municipality of Milan dating to the same year.