Fortuny's lively and brilliant paintings, with their sparkling, flecked brushstrokes, brought him fame not only in his native Spain but also in Italy, France, and the United States. Here, two gentlemen in eighteenth-century dress study a portfolio of engravings in a room crowded with works of art. When the painting was purchased in 1867 by the American W. H. Stewart, one of Fortuny's chief patrons, the artist added a likeness of Stewart, clad in armor, in the elaborate frame over the mantel.
Lower right A: M Fortuny
About 1866/1868, exchanged by the artist with Vicenzo Capobianchi, Rome; May 15, 1868, sold by Capobianchi to Goupil et Cie., Paris, for 4,000 fr.; June 5, 1868, sold by Goupil to William Hood Stewart (b. 1820 - d. 1897), Philadelphia and Paris, for 6,000 fr. [see note 1]; February 3-4, 1898, posthumous Stewart sale, American Art Association, New York, lot 119. Edward T. Stotesbury (b. 1849 - d . 1938), Philadelphia [see note 2]. 1921, Scott and Fowles, New York. 1924, purchased by the MFA for $8000. (Accession Date: February 7, 1924)
 On the early provenance of this painting see W. R. Johnston, "W. H. Stewart, The American Patron of Mariano Fortuny," Gazette des Beaux-Arts 77 (March, 1971): 184 and, in particular, Prelude to Spanish Modernism: Fortuny to Picasso (exh. cat. Albuquerque Museum and Meadows Museum, Dallas, 2005-2006), p. 338, cat. no. 87.  According to notes in the MFA curatorial file.
S. A. Denio Collection—Sylvanus Adams Denio Fund and General Income