Even before his 1832 journey to North Africa as part of the retinue of Count Charles de Mornay, Delacroix was intrigued by the Near East and Orientalist subjects, both historical and contemporary, as in such early paintings as The massacre at Chios (1824) and The death of Sardanapalus (1826). His five month stay in 1832 allowed him to observe a more human side of a world which captured his imagination even before he set foot in it. As a result his works from during or after his visit are both more intimate and less staged as many were done in situ. His many drawings, watercolors and sketchbooks display a fascination with the people, the architecture, the clothing, the landscape, the customs and the rituals, and the brilliant colors and light of this region.
The present composition shows how every aspect of even the simpliest scene of everyday life in Morocco captivated Delacroix. A Berber sits in an interior that is nearly bare except for some cushions on the floor and a trunk and two dishes in the foregound. On the wall on the right hang a leather satchel, a sword and scabbard, summarily indicated with a few strokes of a dry brush. The play of light on the walls is depicted in broad strokes of grey and and brown watercolor. While seemingly rapidly executed, this watercolor shows how no detail escaped Delacroix's observation.