The model for this work was Berthe Morisot, who was herself a painter. After learning painting under Corot and other painters, she frequently studied at Manet’s studio and sometimes worked as his model, before marrying his younger brother in 1874. She put works into the First Impressionist Exhibition and was an enthusiastic member of the Impressionist movement all along thereafter.
Late in life, Manet painted numerous female portraits in pastels. With their light texture, pastels were the most suitable material for depicting the fashionably-dressed parisiennes who flocked about the painter. The softness of pastels is used to great effect for the hat’s feather decorations, the collar’s fluffy adornment, and the model’s skin – which is almost radiant.