I wanted to know more about Mlle Rosina, the subject of this painting.
This work is actually a "portrait" in quotations because it isn't actually a portrait of the woman Mademoiselle Rosina. Huntington based this work on a favorite model.
The woman is intended to be an ideal figure, personifying the art of drawing and the spirit of creativity. This was something artists commonly did at the time -- portraying women as symbols of virtues or other abstract ideas.
What is she thinking and drawing?
Great question! The woman is intended to be an ideal figure personifying the art of drawing and the spirit of creativity. There seems to be a sketch of a palm tree on the page of her sketchbook, like a detail of a faraway landscape.
What is the relation with Brooklyn?
Daniel Huntington was a leading nineteenth-century American figure painter. Perhaps owing to its reference to art-making, Huntington chose this work to fulfill a commission from the fledgling Brooklyn Institute (the forerunner of the Brooklyn Museum), whose painting collection had been formally initiated in 1851.