In 1630, Peter Paul Rubens married Helena Fourment, the daughter of a rich silk-and-rug merchant from the city of Antwerp. It was around this time that the painter’s second wife, who was thirty-six years his half-sister, began to appear frequently in the artist’s work in both compositions of a mythological nature and individual and family portraits. In 'The Garden of Love' (National Trust, Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire), which dates from c. 1630-32, the upper part of a figure identical in every respect to this one can partially be seen.
The painting bears witness to Rubens’ technical skill in the rendering of the textures and hues of the black satin dress, the balanced harmony of the striking volumes, the elegance of the smooth flesh tones, and the audacious and triumphant plasticity of the forms. The low line of the horizon accentuates the monumental verticality of the figure, who wears a black satin dress and a broad-brimmed hat bearing an ostrich feather, in accordance with the fashion that prevailed among the wealthy bourgeoisie of the time.
The striking visual impact of the final result is evident in all of Rubens’ work, reflecting a great creative talent which marked the development of the best Baroque style in Flanders. This painting previously belonged to the collection of Catherine II of Russia.