The sitter, a Genoese diplomat, arrived in Vienna in 1749. A year later he married a socially prominent eighteen-year-old beauty, Ernestine Aloisia Ungnad von Weissenwolff. As director of the imperial theaters from 1754 until 1764, Durazzo promoted Gluck's reform of Italian opera. This portrait probably dates to the early 1760s, shortly before Durazzo's departure for Venice.
Martin van Meytens was born in Stockholm, where his father had emigrated from Holland. In 1717 he moved to Paris and worked there as a portrait-miniaturist. He travelled widely in Germany, Italy, and Austria, before accepting in 1731 the position of official painter at the imperial court at Vienna.