Calamatta was one of Ingres' favourite engravers and the artist commissioned from him eighteen engravings and one lithograph based on his work. Introduced by Ingres to Charles Marcotte (1773-1864), he became very close to the latter and his family. As shown by his letters to Marcotte, he was particularly fond of Marie (1828-1920), his friend's eldest child. In the present drawing he represents her at the age of four, that is three years after Ingres, who also had a special affection for the child, had executed his famous drawing of her in a high chair (H. Naef, Die Bildniszeichnungen von J.-A.-D. Ingres, Bern, 1977-80, V, no. 326). Ingres' portrait of Marie at the age of seventeen, along with the portrait of her fiancé Alexandre Legentil, is included in the Evening Sale, July 7, lot 57.
Following Ingres' example who favoured this technique, Calamatta is using a prepared tablet. It consists of paper stretched around a cardboard tablet, glued down along the edges and on the back of the board. This allowed the artist to work on a smooth and resilient surface.