The present work is a study for one of Charles Hoffbauer's most acclaimed early works, Sur les toits (Among the rooftops) (1905, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, Australia). Exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1905, the exhibition work was almost unanimously admired by critics as one of the best in show and soon after purchased by the Sydney Art Gallery. A subsequent version entitled Roof Garden, New York was exhibited in the 10th Annual Carnegie International Exhibition later that year.
Hoffbauer was "inspired by photographs of New York skyscrapers by night which he recall[ed] seeing the previous summer in a bookshop window on the Corso, Rome; [he painted] preliminary studies based on the photographs, depicting a group of fashionable people dining on a terrace overlooking the light-riddled New York night. Hoffbauer's friends--painter Raoul du Gardier and sculptor Rudolph Evans, pose[d] for the men in the group." (Gropper Art Gallery, Inc., Charles Hoffbauer (1875-1957): Drawings, Temperas & Oil Paintings, West Somerville, Massachusetts, 1977, p. 13)