In 1865 Jacob Maris settled in Paris, where he began painting this series of 'Italiennes' in the studio of Ernest Hebert. In 1866 he made his debut at the Salon with a Petite fille italienne and he won a prize with a similar work that he sent to an exhibition of watercolours in Utrecht. This Girl knitting on a balcony is one of the last of the series and may be identical with the Tricoteuse that he sent to the Salon in 1869. The Corot-like background can be seen in his work several years earlier, while the same balcony appears in a picture dated 1867.
The restrained tonality, contrasting with Jacob's earlier, rather colourful palette, has been attributed by De Gruyter to the renewed influence of Matthijs Maris, who joined his brother in Paris early in 1869. However, Matthijs painted very little in his first years in Paris ; in fact there can be no question of his influence in this work, since Jacob sold it to Goupil's in March 1869 and Matthijs did not arrive in Paris until May of that year.
Source: R. de Leeuw, J. Sillevis, Ch. Dumas (eds.), The Hague School: Dutch masters of the 19th century, The Hague 1983