This painting was greeted with immediate acclaim by progressive critics, who recognised its explicit social connotations, when it was shown in Milan at the Esposizione Nazionale di Milano in 1881. The artist, who had explored genre painting during his years of training, depicts a slice of contemporary life. An elegant gentleman in search of adventure accosts a young woman against the background of a busy street in the lower-class district of Porta Ticino, crowded with boisterous children, elderly governesses, carriages and passers-by. A shabbily dressed girl watches the scene wide-eyed with what the more perceptive commentators of the day interpreted as envy. The artist employs rapid brushstrokes and a warm handling of colour, in which sharp accents of green and yellow stand out against the rhythmic arrangement of reds, delineating the successive perspective planes in the bustling motion of city life. The result is a scene whose apparently engaging and picturesque character is contradicted by the episode in the foreground, which also attracts the viewer’s involved attention by virtue of its close-up presentation and the considerable size of the canvas.