Auguste Toulmouche enjoyed notable success during the Second Empire with his paintings of attractive and lusciously decorated bourgeois interiors and elegantly dressed ladies. He was a student of Marc Gabriel Charles Gleyre and debuted at the Salon in 1848. His entry into the Salon of 1852 won him a third class medal, followed by a second class medal in 1861 and another third class medal for his entry into the 1878 Exposition Universelle (the first class medal at this event was awarded to William Bouguereau's La Charité). Toulmouche was appointed Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur in 1870.
In The Blue Dress the large satin ribbon tied in the back of the gown just below the pouf and the laced square-cut shoulder décolleté illustrate the absolute height of Parisian fashion during the early 1870's. Painstaking detail has been put into the modeling of this fantastic gown with its luscious fabrics and bright colors.
During a time of such riches, conspicuous consumption was demonstrated not only through fashionable gowns and exquisite silk wall coverings, but also through the acquisition of antiques and rare objects imported from foreign lands. The vogue for japonisme peaked during the Second Empire and blue and white porcelain, oriental fans, screens and even kimonos were being assimilated by artists across Europe, from James McNeil Whistler to James-Joseph Tissot and Edouard Vuillard. In The Blue Dress, Toulmouche introduces oriental elements with the use of the porcelain figurines placed over the low-boy off to the side, in order to complete and compliment this very extravagant composition.