Known in her younger days as the "siren with green eyes," Madame Nadine Dumas retains her grace and charm in this portrait bust of her at a mature age. Carved in white marble, she is a handsome woman in her later years with a forceful presence. As she turns with a steady gaze, her upright pose conveys self-assurance. Her unconventional expression suggests intelligence and strength as it shows her with a furrowed brow, caught in a moment of thought. The lace edging on her blouse and the waves in her upswept hair add animation to the smooth surface, while the termination of the bust is softened with a shawl loosely knotted around the shoulders and waist.
The daughter of a lawyer from the Baltic region, Nadine, born Nadeja Knorring, married Prince Alexandre Naryschkine, her elder by twenty years. After separating from her husband, she lived with the famous author Alexandre Dumas fils for about twelve years, unable to marry him until 1864, when Prince Naryschkine died. Artist Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, a close friend of Dumas and a witness at his wedding to Nadeja, conceived of the bust as a friendship portrait. He carved it while staying with the Dumas couple in the north of France near Dieppe.