Emile Munier began his studies under the direction of Adolphe Lucas, and later worked with William Adolphe Bouguereau, the incomparable master of Academic painting. Munier was a frequent exhibitor at the Paris Salon from 1869 until 1895, where he received an honorable mention for his painting La Source in 1882. He was also a member of the Societé des Artistes Français and maintained a studio at Boulevard Beausejour.
Sugar and Spice depicts Emile Munier's daughter Marie Louise Munier at the dinner table. An indication of the contemporary popularity which Sugar and Spice enjoyed is an advertising poster where this composition was reproduced by the Pears Soap Company, circa 1910. Despite the 1910 publishing date of this poster, it is possible to date the present painting to an earlier time, circa 1876-80, as Marie Louise is here seen at about two or three years old - she was born in 1874.
Munier was deeply attached to his children and frequently depicted them in his art using them as his models. There are two known versions of Sugar and Spice, the present painting being the larger life-size version and the other is a half-size reduction (sold in New York on 26 October 2004 as Sugar and Spice). Additionally, there are two known versions, both identical in size, of Portrait de Marie Louise (fig. 1) which depict the young girl in bed. These effervescent images of Marie Louise are evidence to the jovial and amicable family life that reigned over the Munier household.
(fig. 1) Emile Munier, Portrait de Marie Louise, Private Collection.