This piece immortalizes an evening celebration experienced by Giuseppe De Nittis during his stay in Naples, between the end of 1878 and the spring of 1879. Critics agree on this date, ascribing it to the painter's return to Naples after the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1878.
From the background, we can clearly see that this is Naples: Cape Posillipo and Palazzo Donn'Anna can be seen. Furthermore, the painter Eduardo Dalbono also testifies to meetings between De Nittis and other artist friends on a terrace overlooking the gulf; during these evenings, discussions about art alternated with singing and guitar accompaniment.
The identification of the characters is more controversial—only Léontine, the wife of De Nittis who appears at the center, is certain. The man and woman seated on the right are speculated to be Eduardo Dalbono and his wife, Adele. Meanwhile, several names have been proposed for the pair of bearded men. This ambiguity stems from the fact that, according to some critics, they are not drawn from reality, but are references to French art. The painting is in fact considered to be a symbol of De Nittis' relationship with Manet's work. We know that the painting—which was unfinished and considered a minor work at the time—was brought to Paris by De Nittis, and remained there at his atelier until his death, at which point it was willed to his widow, Léontine. After passing through several owners, it was purchased by Carlo Grassi and was later donated to the collections of the Galleria d'Arte Moderna.