Gwen John trained at the Slade School of Art in London, where her brother Augustus was also a student. She settled in Paris in 1904, working as a model, becoming Rodin's mistress and immersing herself in the artistic world of the metropolis. She lived in France for the rest of her life, exhibiting on both sides of the Channel. The portrait shown here is of a Paris friend, Chloë Boughton-Leigh. The subdued colouring, short foreground and self-absorption of the sitter create a deeply intense atmosphere. John showed it in London, at the New English Art Club.