When this picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1879, the Art Journal commented: 'This faculty of making the commonplace pictorial is well shown in the two girls - the elder fair-haired, and the younger quite Italian in look - playing 'Cat's Cradle' (353) by Maria Brooks, whose graceful pencil and pleasing colour we have frequently had occasion to praise'.
Unusually for a Victorian artist, and a female one at that, Maria Brooks exhibited throughout the globe, and established a reputation in London, New York, and Australia. Having studied at the South Kensington School of Design and at the Royal Academy Schools, she exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Royal Society of British Artists, and the Society of Women Artists. She also exhibited in Manchester and Liverpool.
In 1875 she lived at 290 King's Road, Chelsea, before moving in 1876, three years before this picture was exhibited, to 121 Sloane Street. Thereafter she emigrated to the United States and exhibited at the Brooklyn Art Association, the Pan American Exhibition in Buffalo in 1901, and the St Louis Exposition. In Canada she exhibited with the Montreal Art Association and the Royal Canadian Academy. She showed work at the Australian Exhibition in Melbourne in 1898. The present work shows an 'Aesthetic' interior of particular sophistication.