An internationally acclaimed artist and dancer, Paul Swan painted, among others, Charles Lindbergh, James Ramsay Macdonald, Benito Mussolini and Pope Paul VI. Swan first met Isadora Duncan in Paris in 1921, when they were both guests at the Bal Noir et Blanc, held at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees. Isadora was on the dance floor when she saw Swan and called to him “Oh beautiful youth, come here to me! Where have you come from? Arcady? Who are you? Why haven't I seen you before?”
Swan and Duncan were kindred spirits, and both shared the capacity to live life on their own terms, defying convention both personally and professionally. Duncan didn't care what people thought about her bohemian existence, a quality that appealed to the more reticent Swan. The liberal attitudes of Paris proved to be the perfect backdrop for the couple, where their own particular brand of self-expression could be developed in both dance and art. Swan decided to paint Isadora's portrait in 1922, five years before her tragic death in a motoring accident in France, when her silk scarf became caught up in the wheel of her car. It was seen by the sculptor Salvatore Scarpitta in Swan’s Los Angeles studio, and he persuaded the artist to part with it in return for several litres of wine. The painting remained in the Scarpitta family for many years before being sold to Enrico Seccone.