portrait of a young woman, c. 1856-1900. Possibly an after-death portrait? Photography was a new thing with the Victorian era. So taking photos of the dead, as a memento of them, became quite a thing. And the more times I look at this, the more I think that neutral, confidant air and posture is the result of the girl being a corpse.
Circassian Beauty In the 1860s, P.T. Barnum exhibited women whom he claimed were Circassian beauties. They wore a distinctive Afro hair style and were known as “moss haired girls.” Circassian beauties were typically presented as victims of sexual enslavement among the Turks, who had escaped from the harem to achieve freedom in America. (via WonderfullyStrange
Coffin of Khnumnakht(Dynasty 13,Middle Kingdom) : The brilliantly painted exterior of the coffin of Khnumnakht, an individual unknown except for his name, displays the multiplicity of texts and decorative panels characteristic of coffin decoration in the late Middle Kingdom. ...click picture to read more...
I think this photo was post-mortem. Her hand at the neckline of her dress doesn't seem to be in a natural position, and her eyes seem distant. The hand on the stool could well have been used to help prop her up. Her hair gives an appearance of having been neglected, perhaps due to illness.