Boldini's Impressionism shines in this impressive tour de force. Clearly, Edgar Degas' daring paginations, deeply influenced by his photographic experiments, are Boldini's stylistic reference in the framing of this image - the lady's arm left off-frame; a glimpse of her precious décolleté offered to the viewer; her pet, symbol of her social status and elegance, allowed centre stage in the composition.
This rich pastel was a gift from the artist to Judith Gautier (1845-1917), the renowned author and writer on music, daughter of the writer Théophile Gautier and herself an important member of the 19th Century Parisian intelligenstia. Courted by Victor Hugo and Richard Wagner, a close friend of John Singer Sargent (see fig. 1), Judith Gautier audaciously sustained passionate intellectual debate with her male contemporaries. In 1910, she wrote to Raoul Aubry: 'Indépendante j'ai vécu, indépendante je vieillis, indépendante je mourrai. Je serai, toute mon existance, une sorte d'Extrême-Orientale détachée des choses de son temps et de son milieu' (quoted in J. Richardson, Judith Gautier, Paris, 1989, p. 9).