For Kuhn, the path from idea to completed canvas was often lengthy; numerous preparatory drawings and sketches were executed, and costumes were sewn before he actually began painting. When idea and costume came together, however, he would work directly from a specifically chosen model and complete the piece in a few days. After the model had left, he added finishing touches with delicate brushstrokes or with the little finger of his right hand. The signature and date came last. Kuhn most frequently used show-business people and performers for his models as exemplified in Girl with Mirror. Here, a female performer glances down, directing her attention toward her image in the mirror rather than confronting the viewer; the figure occupies her own separate world. Because this work lacks the simplicity and stark contrasts of Kuhn's mature frontal images, Girl with Mirror may be seen as a step toward the monumentality of his later style.
This painting was presented to the public for the first time at the Downtown Gallery in New York in 1929. Girl with Mirror was illustrated on the cover of Art Digest in mid April, and Duncan Phillips must have seen the magazine, because he sent a telegram in early May asking the dealer to reserve the painting for him. After visiting the exhibition, Phillips purchased it along with Performer Resting of 1929 saying he was "glad to get Kuhn so well represented at last and....I agree with those who have long predicted that he would be one of the really important American artists...."
Phillips included Girl with Mirror in a 1932 exhibition, Kuhn's first solo Washington show. The painting was admired by critics for its characterization and strength of form. Phillips himself observed, "Kuhn's rise to the front rank is evident enough...in such handsome and personal canvases as 'Girl and Mirror' and 'Performer Resting'...."