Walter Sickert is considered one of the most influential British artists of the early twentieth century. His artistic career began in 1882, when he became a studio assistant to James McNeill Whistler. In 1883 he couriered Whistler’s celebrated 'Portrait of the Artist’s Mother' (1871) to Paris, which led to an introduction to the work of Edgar Degas. Sickert became one of Britain’s chief proponent of modern ideas about painting being developed in France and came to believe that most contemporary paintings were too sentimental and that art needed to embrace a more honest, darker representation of reality.'Head of a Woman' (1906) is also sometimes known as 'The Belgian Cocotte' on account of her exposed breast; indeed, Sickert often used prostitutes as models in his work. The sitter in this case is a French milliner named Jeanne Daurmont who, along with her sister, modelled for several sittings in 1906. The painting demonstrates the influence of the impressionists; the skin and face of the figure is constructed from dabs of pale yellow and hues of red pink and ochre, while the dark backdrop is consistent with contemporary photographic portraiture and theatrical lighting.