Princesses Ielena (or Helena) and Alexandra Kourakine are in their early to mid twenties in this 1802 portrait. They were the daughters of Alexander Borissovitch Kourakine, the glamorous Russian ambassador to France during the years 1808 - 1812.
I have to ask myself if the portrait artist, Vladimir Borovikovsky, meant to make these young women look like their pug dog. Then I stop and ask myself if he also meant to make the pug look that intelligent (which, forgive me, the girls do not). Borovikovsky began as an icon painter, but learned an academic style that served him well and in which he painted about 500 portraits of his society's titled or intellectual best. Many show insight below their polite veneer. Was this work meant to be a sort of picture ad for two marriage-age noble "properties," with the dog serving as the only sign of his young mistresses' hidden potential? I've been looking for information on them, but I can't find any, so I can't answer. Only ask.