Tanière specialized in still lifes and portraits, both on canvas and occasionally on porcelain. Here he portrays lilacs, which he might have chosen as a sly nod to his French heritage. Between 1876 and 1927, the nurseryman Victor Lemoine of Nancy, France, introduced over 153 named cultivars, including "French Lilacs," which extended the flower’s previously limited color range.
Born in San Francisco to French immigrants, Tanière spent his youth in France before returning to San Francisco and studying at the California School of Design. After additional training in Paris, he returned to San Francisco and seemed destined for a prominent place among California’s artists until his promise was cut short by a bicycle accident in San Francisco at age 33.