Eugène Carrière's success came late in his career. Initially trained as a commercial lithographer, his decision to become an artist was inspired by a visit to Paris in 1868. His formal education under Alexandre Cabanel at the École des Beaux-Arts was interrupted by the Franco-Prussian war, during which he was taken prisoner. After completing his studies Carrière was often forced to use his skills as a printmaker to make a living and support his family. It was during this difficult time that he met the artist Auguste Rodin, who became a lifelong friend.
In 1890 the two friends, together with Pierre Puvis de Chavannes founded the Salon de la Société nationale des Beaux-Arts.
Carrière's compassion for the feelings of others is visible in his portraits. His ethereal figures seem to emerge slowly from their surrounding environment, as in the present painting. His subtle, earth-toned palette became increasingly muted throughout the 1880s. The lack of finish and context constitutes a common ground in the works of the the two artists, a relationship emphasized by Camille Mauclair, who wrote: 'Rodin paints in marble, Carrière sculpts in shadow'.