After many years living in England, Carl Fredric von Breda returned to Stockholm in 1796. The following year, he completed a full-length portrait of Teresa Vandoni – an Italian opera singer and actress who appeared on stage all over Stockholm in the mid-1790s.
In London, von Breda had been strongly influenced by British portraitists such as Thomas Gainsborough. Back home, these experiences informed his own artistic style, and the portrait of Teresa Vandoni is quite probably inspired by Gainsborough’s full-length portraits of English noblewomen in an outdoor setting. The portrait was shown to great acclaim at the Royal Academy exhibition in Stockholm in 1798.
With a small dog under her arm and a garland of flowers in her hand, Vandoni is strolling through a wild and overgrown parkland scene at Bellevue, near Brunnsviken on the outskirts of Stockholm. Her light and simple dress was the height of fashion at the time and an allusion to the much admired sculptures of Ancient Rome and Greece. This painting thus unites two of the era’s key cultural trends – a fascination for classical antiquity and a new interest in nature.