The present work is a monumental, lavish and expressive painting which marks an important stage in Dufy's career as he continuously assimilated the lessons of Cézanne and Cubism, as well as the bold and vibrant palette of the Fauves, while moving towards a more personal aesthetic, one whose colour theories he would further develop and explore over the coming decades. Most probably a portrait of his wife, La dame en rose finds its antecedent in 1908, in a painting of the same title now in the collection of the Musée d'Art moderne in Paris. A comparison of the two works works not only displays Dufy's stylistic and colouristic development in the intervening years, but also reveals some interesting compositional alterations. The hands have become more twisted and expressive, while the eyes have taken on a Modigliani-like emptiness that at once engages and enthrals the viewer. La dame en rose displays Dufy's pre-occupation with a lyrical composition in which form and colour combine to produce a vibrant and fluid work.
'During this period of development a fundamental aspect of Dufy's art becomes apparent: the monumentality of the human figure. It occupies the larger part of the composition, as in the Portait of Madame Dufy, better known as Woman in pink of 1908. The density of the figure derives from the lesson that he had learned from Cézanne, along with the mannerist distortion of the hands, which is exaggerated in the 1912 version. Two additional influences, inherited from the Fauve period, are brought together in this work: the influence of Gauguin in the decorative arabesques and the black outlines that surround the forms; and the influence of Van Gogh's self-portraits, in the comma-like strokes of colour that twist around in a circular rhythm' (D. Perez-Tibi, Dufy, Paris, 1989, p. 43).
There exist three other versions of the present work; the first, executed in 1908, is probably the first time Dufy painted his wife and is now in the collection of the Musée d'Art moderne in Paris, a bequest from Madame Dufy herself. The second is more akin to the present work in its increased stylisation and angularity; its current whereabouts are unknown. The last version, stylistically similar to the first, is in the Musée de Grenoble, also a bequest from Madame Dufy.