Denis entered the Acad_mie Julian in Paris. Together with S_rusier, Ranson, Bonnard, and others, he formed the Nabis. His works were characterized by simplified contours and flat colors not only in oil painting but also in fields such as prints, interior decoration, murals, and illustration. He also wrote a number of books on art such as Theories, New Theories, and The History of Religious Art.
In his early years, influenced by Gauguin, Denis painted strongly decorative and flat works. Here, the Symbolist tranquility of the early years is restrained and the colorful characteristic of his later years is conveyed. The models are the artist’s second wife and their newborn baby and they were portrayed at Denis’s villa in Brittany amongst red-pot pokers in their full glory. Being a devout Catholic, rather than separating religion and secularity in his works, Denis endeavored to bring forth a world in which both mingled with each other. That is to say, he identified piety and mystique amidst real life. Accordingly, this mother and child image alludes directly to that of the Madonna and Child so that it proved a perfect motif for Denis.