A study for the lost picture La nuit au désert, exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1884.
The present work is dedicated to Blanche, Gérôme's second daughter (1868-1918). Ackerman records a portrait of her, aged 6-8, which was in the Antoine Conté collection, however it's present whereabouts is unknown (see G. Ackerman, Jean-Léon Gérôme, London, 1986, p. 234, no. 236).
Only two works, according to Ackerman's catalogue raisonné, are dedicated to Gérôme's daughters. The other, a sketch for Un bain maure (see lot 242) was for his daughter, Madeleine (op. cit., no. 240B).
Gérôme almost always inscribed gifts in long-hand although he seldom gave away finished works as they were too valuable.
Professor Gerald Ackerman has authenticated this work on the basis of a photograph.