La comtesse Skavronskaia (1796). Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (French, 1755–1842). Oil on canvas. Louvre Museum.
The artist, fleeing the Revolution in 1789, then traveled in Europe. She lived in Russia from 1795 to 1801, painting the nobles of St. Petersburg, including the Countess Catherine Vasilyevna Skavronskaia (1761-1829), queen of honor of the Empress Catherine II, and mistress of Potemkin.
The outstanding figure of Catherine’s reign, other than Catherine herself, was Gregory Potemkin. For seventeen years, from 1774 to 1791, he was the most powerful man in Russia. No one else during her life was closer to Catherine; he was her lover, her adviser, her military commander in chief, the governor and viceroy of half of her empire, the creator of her new cities, seaports, palaces, armies, and fleets. (Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman - Robert K. Massie)