Born in Poncin, the son of the poet Jeanne Marie Firmin-Girard, Marie François was initially praised for his talent as a draughtsman. He was invited to join the studio of renowned painter Charles Gleyre and later gained acceptance into the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts . Apart from his more classical training at the Ecole, Firmin-Girard took on projects outside of class painting murals in private homes and painting religious subjects and portraits. These experiences exposed him to different forms of expression and allowed him to expand his artistic horizons and meet influential patrons and collectors who would support him later in his career.
Marie-François Firmin-Gerard's most celebrated body of work encompasses all the glittering splendor of the Belle Èpoque from his scenes of elegant Parisians taking their daily promenades around the French capital to his romantic depictions of marchandes de fleurs. However, his repertoire was not only confined to Paris - Firmin-Girard traveled extensively within France, and a great portion of his works draw direct inspiration from the countryside around Fontainebleau, Melun as well as the regions of le Brionnais, Charolais and Picardie.
According to Paul Girard, the present work was inspired by one of the artist's jaunts into the Picardie region. Exhibited at the Salon of 1882 it stands undoubtedly as a tour-de-force of Firmin-Girard's artistic career. A group of elegant ladies dressed in 18th Century costume enjoy a summer outing at the farm of a country manor. Compositionally, the artist devotes equal attention to both the group of ladies and the farmyard animals that surround them and spares no detail in his individual depiction of each figure and animal.
Firmin-Girard's use of 18th Century costumes was not uncommon for his time. Many 19th Century artists from Federico Andreotti to James-Jacques-Joseph Tissot were attracted not only to the ostentatious dress of the period but the underlying social customs, social structure, and courtship rituals of the era.