A highly original painter of portraits, still life, and landscapes, Adolphe Monticelli trained in Paris with academic painters, copied works in the Louvre by Giorgione, Rembrandt, and Paolo Veronese, and befriended Eugène Delacroix, with whom he shared an intense fascination of color. The loose brushwork and textured surfaces that characterize Monticelli’s paintings greatly influenced modern artists like Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, and the Fauves. Van Gogh, in fact, imitated Monticelli’s style and bought six canvases by the artist. He hoped that his own paintings—with their brilliant color and thick impasto—might be better understood as a continuation of Monticelli’s late work.
Duncan Phillips first saw this painting in an exhibition at the Paul Rosenberg Gallery in 1953 and purchased it six years later, when he was rediscovering Monticelli’s historical role. Phillips saw Monticelli as “connecting the Romanticism of Delacroix with the Expressionism of van Gogh and with all the subsequent Expressionists down to our own day.”