By the time that Serge de Diaghilev brought his ballet troup to Paris in 1906 for the famous "saisons russes", his friendship with the painter Jacques-Emile Blanche had already been one of fruitful collaboration. As early as 1899 Diaghilev had exhibited two of Blanche's paintings at his "Exposition internationl de Peinture" held in St Petersburg. For the 1909 ballet season, Diaghilev was in need of funds in order to impose his aesthetic; the "style Ballets russes" that took the public at the Théâtre de Châtelet by storm. Blanche, with his worldly connections brought in such patrons as the grand-duchess Vladimir and the Countess Greffuhle. Given his importance for the well-being of Diaghilev's ballet, Blanche assisted at rehearsals and performances and frequently received the dancers at his famous "salon" at his home in Auteuil.
Eugène Druet's photographs of Nijinski, Ida Rubenstein and Tamara Karsavina were largely taken on June 19, 1910 in Blanche's garden at Auteuil where the dancers had come for the day, driven by the sculptor Rodin. Other photographs by Druet of the great Nijinski in costume for the ballet "Les Orientales" were also taken in the same garden and served Blanche as tools for his numerous paintings of the dancer - including the present painting.
In a 1911 notebook, Blanche noted the enormous influence that the Ballets Russes had had on his painting: "Les Ballets russes qu'on voudrait suivre tous les soirs, si inspirants, et qui ont développé en moi le gôut de la couleur" (quoted by Bertrand in the catalogue of the exhibition J.E.Blanche, Rouen, 1993, p. 85).