Bartolini was perhaps one of the most original sculptors of the first half of the 19th century. A friend of Ingres, pupil of the painter David, Bartolini spent his youthful years in Paris and became famed for his portrait statues of Napoleon. During his later years, however, he departed from his earlier Neoclassical principles and sought a more precise representation of nature, in a style which is strongly felt in this work. Bartolini breaks up the harmony of the Classical image, allowing small distortions in the shoulders and arms. The girl's face bears a light grimace of pain from the scorpion's sting. The first marble version of this late sculpture was exhibited in Paris at the Salon of 1845 and was hugely successful. We can judge just how popular the sculpture was by the number of copies now to be found in various museums around the world. The Hermitage example was commissioned by Tsar Nicholas I, who visited Bartolini's studio at the end of 1845. Work was begun by the master himself but it was completed after his death by Giovanni Dupre, one of the best Bartolini's pupils. The State Hermitage Museum, St.Petersburg. Photo by Evgeniy Sinyaver.