Born in Tuskegee, Alabama, Frederick Arthur Bridgman rose rapidly in academic circles - firstly at the Brooklyn Art School and the National Academy of Design in New York, followed by the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris where he became one of Gérôme's most successful students. While summers were often spent painting in nearby Brittany, Bridgman's trips to Tangier and Algiers in 1872-73 and to Egypt in 1873-74 converted him the Orientalism. According to M.G. Van Rensselaer, Bridgman was considered "Well trained, well informed, scholarly and accomplished" (M.G. van Rensselaer, American Art and American Art Collections, Boston, 1889, p. 179). Bridgman earned respect for the sincerity of his depictions, especially for his pictures of daily life and inhabitants of North Africa. Remarkable for a foreigner, he was the recipient of medals in the Salons of 1877 and 1878. He was also honored with a one man show in New York in 1881.
During the 1880s, Bridgman made many trips to Algiers which he referred to as the "City of Whites". Against the backdrop of the sun-drenched, whitewashed houses in the distance stands a typical Algerian beauty. Dressed in a translucent veil and typical bloused pantaloons, she coyly glances over her shoulder as if having sensed the presence of someone behind her. His sultry model bears a striking resemblance to the ladies in a similar work set on a terrace, Les Voisines, Terrasses d'Alger (sold Christies, New York, 14 February 1996, lot 34).
Although trained in the rigid academic style, compositions such as this reveal a loosening of the brushwork and gradual softening of his palette. Bridgman's exploration of the transient nature of sunlight and its effect on white surfaces is no doubt inspired by the work of his compatriots, John Singer Sargent and James McNeil Whistler which was on view at the various European venues and would have been well known to Bridgman.