The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by technical analyses carried out at the National Gallery Ateneum, Helsinki.
Albert Edelfelt spent much of 1879 painting en plein air at his mother's villa in Haikko, Finland, most notably A child's funeral (Antell Collecion, National Gallery Ateneum, Helsinki) for which he won a medal at the Salon the following year. Having adopted the realist style of his contemporary mentor and friend Jules Bastien-Lepage, he also flirted with more impressionist techniques. The rest of that year he remained in Paris to paint a number of female portraits, mainly of the popular Parisian models of the day such as in Les Cerises (The Emil Aaltonen Collection, Tempere, 1879) which he exhibited at the Salon later that year.
These particular portraits came at an interesting time for Edelfelt - not only was the creative trend in Paris shifting from the traditional and academic but so too was society in general. The French capital was at the epicentre of this change and was coming to represent modernity in all its guises. While being the heartbeat of the radical new movements in more bohemian circles, Paris was also burgeoning financially, particularly in the art market, and was proving to be far more lucrative for the Finnish painter than his home country. Of course, buying from the Finnish Art Society and commissions from Finnish collectors were important, but it was the enthusiastic bourgeois clientèle in Paris that supported him.
During the emergence of this capital city characterised by modern technology, consumption, pleasure and sensual enjoyment, entertainment, fashion and prostitution in their various guises, contemporary artists drew inspiration from the new role of women in society. Among the subjects favoured by regular buyers were the beautiful portraits of unnamed Parisian models. Elegant and pretty, these young girls were painted and often fought over, by artists wishing to appeal to these new collectors. This sensuously painted object of desire, with her downcast gaze and her revealing low-cut dress, undoubtedly speaks of the changing role of women in society and the emergence of the Parisienne.