Portrait of Ekaterina Nelidova
In the seventies of the 18th century Catherine II commissioned Levitsky to paint a series of "Smolyanki" that consisted of seven portraits of the pupils of the Smolny Institute for Noble Maidens – privileged educational establishment, opened in St. Petersburg in 1764 by decree of the Empress. Daughters of the nobles were preparing there for the Royal Court service and secular life. Talents that were "pleasant in society" were developed in girls. They were taught French and German languages, the elegant manners, as well as singing, dancing, playing musical instruments. The performances were often held in the Smolny Institute. Smolyanki acted out French comedies and also performed in ballet.
Ekaterina Nelidova is depicted in a theatrical costume, performing a dance number on the stage of the Smolny Institute.
Ekaterina Ivanovna Nelidova (1758–1839): Daughter of Lieutenant Ivan Nelidov. Studied at the Smolny Institute (1765–77). Graduated with a gold medal and monogram of Catherine the Great. Ladyin-waiting to Grand Duchess Natalia Alexeyevna (from 1776) and Grand Duchess Marie Fyodorovna (from 1777). Lady of the bedchamber. Favourite of Tsar Paul. Spent the last years of her life at the Smolny Institute.