François-Joseph Navez began his studies with Joseph François at the Brussels Académie before eventually moving to Paris, where he joined the studio of Jacques-Louis David from 1813-1816. In 1817, he left for Italy, where he met the French artists associated with the Villa Medici in Rome such as Victor Schnetz, Léopold Robert, and François-Marius Granet. Around this time, Navez, having gained technical skill and a foundation in naturalistic anatomy in the studio of David, developed a fascination with Ingres. The present portrait, composed of three figures with carefully modeled features, elaborate hair styles and opulent costumes, is a testament to Navez's admiration for the older artist.
In 1822, Navez returned to Brussels. He created this lovely portrait of Théodore Jonet and his two daughters a decade later, two years after the Belgian Revolution of 1830. After Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo in 1815, the Congress of Vienna ruled that the Southern Netherlands be joined with the Dutch Republic, in a single entity called the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. In 1830, Belgians rejected this union, in part because the new state was headed by Protestant William I of Orange, and the people established the independent Kingdom of Belgium. Despite this upheaval, Navez continued to attract patrons from the Brussels bourgeoisie. Jonet was a long-term acquaintance of Navez, having commissioned a portrait from him twenty years earlier. The format of the present work found favor among this milieu in Brussels: a similar picture the family of Gaspard Moeremans-Mathieu posed before a landscape is now the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Coekelberghs, et. al., op. cit., p. 105, fig.164).