This painting, once believed to be a reduced autograph replica (a copy by the original artist) after the prime Salon version exhibited in 1872, is now known to be a preparatory sketch dated 1863. Jalabert was a devoted student of Paul Delaroche, working with him in Paris and for three years in Italy. Delaroche's mentoring of Jalabert gained him access to an elite circle of artists, including Géricault, Delacroix, and Jean-Léon Gérôme. Delaroche encouraged Jalabert to exhibit at the Salon, as well to compete for the coveted Prix de Rome. Faithful, like his teacher, to the beautiful forms of antiquity and its revival during the Renaissance, Jalabert chose to specialize in scenes of everyday life with the anecdotal appeal of this tender rendition of mother and child.
After he first exhibited a work at the Salon of 1847, Jalabert was presented by Gérôme to the art dealer Adophe Goupil. Goupils's accounting books record this sketch as having been sold to William Walters for 2,400 francs on May 9, 1864, supporting the earlier date recently discovered by Walters' conservators while cleaning the painting.