A master of genre painting, in which Benlliure had specialized since an early stage of his career, this great Nineteenth Century Spanish artist owes his style to the school of painters in Rome and Paris. In his early works, the themes were more frequently inspired by his prolonged stays in the Italian capital, where he settled in 1879 to become an active member of the circle of Spanish painters.
The social events of the aristocracy were a popular subject for Benlliure, whose charming scenes were always very well received by the bourgeoisie of the late XIX century. This newly fortuned market brought about new demands and consequently, a new commercial face to the art of the time. Indeed, 'unofficial art' was in reality the most numerous, the most important, and the most characteristic of the Spanish school in Rome and, as one of the favoured artists, Benlliure kept close contact with his well-to-do clientele, further adapting their necessities to his art.
The event of the carnival clearly had an impact upon the painter as there exist three different versions exist of this particular painting. Il carnevale di Roma denotes the influence of Mariano Fortuny and his maestro Francisco Marqus, who dedicated his artistic career to a genre painting of tremendous technique. Fortuny had in 1873 already painted more than one version of the Roman event which may have influenced Benlliure, and despite their smaller dimensions, Benlliure's paintings captivate their viewer with a dazzling array of elements and story-telling details.
Carlos Gonzales and Montse Marti note in their book Spanish Painters in Rome (1850-1900) that "during the period 1865 to 1885, The Spaniards were the arbiters and leaders of the Roman artistic circle, to the extent that the most exclusive salons opened their doors to them...The Spanish school in Rome was characterised by the search for novelty of theme and narrative content, expressed through minutely detailed brushwork and luminosity" (Barcelona, 1988, p. 13).