Doré made his name in France in the 1850s and 1860s as an illustrator of books and poems. His paintings were admired more in Britain, which he first visited in 1868, returning each summer thereafter. His greatest achievement as an illustrator was his book, 'London: A Pilgrimage' (1872). Its illustrations highlighted the gulf between high society and the grim life of the poor in the capital city.
Doré's biographer stated that he "was touched by the sad beauty to be found in poor street flower sellers", a sympathy that is explored in this painting.