Vibert, in this rare example, uses his profoundly satirical humor not at the expense of the clergy but instead at the expense of the provincial middle class. The scene depicted here is the first of two works illustrated in the chapter titled Monsieur en visite in Vibert's book, La comédie en peinture. The first episode in this chapter, also depicted here, is a local cardinal's visit to the home of a young lady in the French provinces. In a letter to her aunt, the lady describes the scene in detail. The second episode in the same chapter is the aunt's response to her letter describing her introduction to important members of the clergy. Either lady's social ambitions, as well as their efforts in order to entertain and impress figures of regional authority, is the focus of this story. Needless to say, the indulging cardinal becomes an amusement.
Vibert's text for the present painting reads as follows: "My dear aunt: At last - yesterday I had His Reverence round for my private five o'clock. What a triumph for me! No longer shall I be little scatterbrain, the frivolous little girl the world likes to think I am, since I have been found fit to receive such an honorable person. For as you know, here in the provinces such a visit carries so much more importance - so much more, that it was even discussed and approved on high beforehand. I tried to do myself justice, for the sake of my name and family and for you, my dear aunt, who have been my mentor [...] I do not dare say that I succeeded as you would have with your experience, but I think that this first impression was not bad at all. Then, I had the unheard of luck to have the Comtesse de B..., whom you know by name, drop in a third of the way into the visit who served as my foil of course [...] She would not stop gesticulating, getting up, changing places, offering tea, offering cakes. One would have thought she was in her own home, you have my word of honor! And what chatter! His Reverence speaking of his missions, she would get out all her old schoolbooks on theology, history and geography. She's a true atlas that lady, the only difference being that Atlas supported the world and that the world could not possible support her [...] And her ridiculous questions! Picture a lady asking this dignified clergyman if, during his moments of solitude, he ever missed having conversation! She elicited this response which, naturally, she did not understand: 'Never, madam! And today I shall return to them with greater enthusiasm than ever!" (Vibert, La comédie en peinture, p. 38).
The Comtesse de B..., depicted in a dark blue overcoat and hat is caught in a moment of nervous servitude just as described in Vibert's text for the piece. Although the viewer can not see her facial expressions, it is not difficult to imagine her fake smile and her anxious chatter based on details that Vibert so carefully included to complete the scene. She has not even had a chance to take off her overcoat nor her hat, furthermore her parasol, her gloves and her hand bag are all thrown carelessly on the day bed. Her nervous entrance is well juxtaposed with the confident pose of the hostess dressed in light pink, whose placement by the dessert stand confirms her role as the hostess of the event.