Accustomed to living abroad since childhood, master novelist Henry James was more comfortable in Europe than in the United States. James frequently pursued the theme of encounters between the Old World and the New in his fiction, and his books often explored the plight of Americans who lose their naiveté through adventures on the Continent. Although James ultimately claimed British citizenship, he never lost his sense of American identity. A close friend of American novelist Edith Wharton, James was visiting her in France when he agreed to sit for this portrait by Jacques-Émile Blanche. Pleased with the final product, which disguised his girth, James declared that "it has a certain dignity of intention and indication—of who and what, poor creature, he 'is'! It ought to be seen in the U.S."