Afternoon was painted in 1924, during Sterne's most productive period in the village of Anticoli Corrado. Although one of the poorest areas in Italy, Afternoon depicts an Anticolan woman seated on a balcony overlooking the Piazza della Villa. Since Sterne's studio was located away from the city, the work may have been painted at the sitter's home instead.
The figure is depicted with incisive line and minimal detail and is accentuated by its placement as a silhouette against the sun-filled piazza. In the manner of Cézanne, Sterne has structured the mountainous landscape and buildings into layers of richly modulated greens, oranges, and browns—applied with a palette knife in some sections.
The exotic locale and the sitter's reflective expression appealed to Duncan Phillips's sense of the romantic. He described Afternoon in A Collection in the Making as "glamorous and haunting in its sense of ancient mountains and…civilizations, and melancholy with the mood of the shadowed dreamer on the balcony...." He admired the painting for its compositional strength, proclaiming it in a letter as "far and away the outstanding picture" in the 1926 Sterne exhibition …” Sterne himself, as late as 1938, could think of no better work he had done.