Henri Fantin-Latour was associated with the early Impressionists, socialising with other artists such as Manet, with whom he remained friends until Manet’s death in 1883. However, Fantin-Latour’s style differed from his contemporaries as he preferred to paint in a more realistic style, using grey and earthier tones to create calmer scenes.
This portrait of his sister was rejected by the Salon exhibition is 1859 for being unfinished. He had deliberately concentrated on her face and hands, leaving the clothes and background simply painted. Fantin-Latour’s work was instead exhibited, along with other works refused into the Salon exhibition, in the studio of the artist François Bouvin which became known as Boudin’s Atelier Flamand.
In 1861 a similar portrait of Maire Fantin-Latour painted by her brother was shown in the Salon exhibition, this time in a different pose with a more decorative background.