This painting was executed in 1835 for Andrea Maffei, poet, translator and iconographic adviser to Francesco Hayez. He subsequently gave it to his wife Clara who displayed it in her famous and much frequented salon in Milan. The work adds a fictional element to a historic episode, which at the time had become familiar through literary works: the tragedy Antonio Foscarini by Giovan Battista Piccolini, published in Florence in 1827, and the French novel Foscarini ou le patricien de Venise. Valenza Gradenigo, guilty of having attempted to save the man she loved – Senator Antonio Foscarini, condemned for treason in 1662 – is led before the Venice Inquisitors who include her father, the inflexible judge depicted in the centre of the room. Set against the skilfully studied theatrical setting of the scene with its contrasting figures and calibrated light effects is a silent dialogue of glances and expressions exchanged between the characters: the father’s stern composure, the furtive glance of the servant supporting the woman, the scornful expression of the young judge. Valenza Gradenigo before her Father the Inquisitor, the first version of the painting executed in 1832 for the Milanese notable Antonio Patrizio, in the small format of an anecdotal painting, was donated to the Brera Academy in 1900, and is now in storage at Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo, while the later versions of the same subject dating from 1845 are lost. This second version was particularly popular with both critics and public, and Pietro Bagatti Valsecchi made many prints of it as well as enamel miniatures on copper and porcelain. This initiated a trend towards the depiction of obscure and tragic Venetian historical episodes in history painting, which were often replicated in different versions such as The Last Meeting between Jacopo Foscari and his Family Before Being Sent into Exile, also in this collection.