Luks's straightforward, spontaneous portrait of the actor Otis Skinner reveals the artist at his best in the evocation of character. He depicts Skinner as the brash, rakish Colonel Philippe Bridau, a role he played in The Honor of the Family, Emile Fabré's dramatic adaptation of Balzac's story "Les célibataires."
Another artist had painted the actor as the character of Bridau more than seven years earlier, and Luks may have seen that work in a catalogue, as this portrait bears striking similarities to the earlier one. The posture, costume, tilted top hat, and diagonal cane are almost identical in both paintings; however Luks’s composition is original in its acute depiction of character and its bold, virtuoso brushwork.
Here, the artist presents the good-natured, roguish demeanor of the subject, Colonel Bridau. The actor is shown in three-quarter-length against a neutral background, removing him from any descriptive context and forcing the viewer to focus on the actor's mocking gaze. Luks rivaled the seventeenth-century Dutch artist Frans Hals in his ability to capture momentary facial expressions and poses that readily communicate personality with quick brushstrokes. Duncan Phillips thought "the portrait of Otis Skinner in the role of Colonel Philippe Bridau—a poseur and vagrant adventurer—is a design daring in color, strikingly effective in silhouette, and essentially a satire on all grandiose histrionics."
An admirer of Skinner since his youth, Phillips commissioned the portrait, stating that he considered Luks the best man in America for the job. Because Skinner was too busy for studio sittings, Phillips purchased theater tickets for the artist so that he could sketch the actor in performance.
It was exhibited at Kraushaar Galleries in 1919, receiving much critical acclaim. Declared by Phillips as one of his best purchases of the season, the work was so popular that it was frequently requested for other exhibitions. At the Art Institute of Chicago's "33rd Annual Exhibition of American Oil Painting" in 1920, it won first prize.