Portrait of a Lady in Blue, a sketch of an unidentified young woman, is likely to date from the late 1890s when, for the second time, Lavery came under Whistler's spell. Studying the master's work at close quarters he observed that many of his recent canvases had been savagely scraped down after unsatisfactory sittings. Having visited the Prado, Lavery had also noted the dramatic alterations which his great Spanish mentor, Velàzquez, would make. Consequently his own pictures of the period 1898-1902 frequently bear the evidence of re-working and as in the present instance, the weave of the canvas-board shows through in places where a palette knife has been taken to the surface. Such small works, combining a vivid perception of character with colour scheme experimentation, enable the present example to be placed alongside canvases such as Nora, (circa 1898) and Lady with a Green coat, (circa 1900).