Sickert challenged traditional idealised treatments of the nude. He placed his figures in real environments. This is one of several paintings showing a naked woman in poor surroundings: on a cheap iron bed in a dimly-lit room. The painting does not reveal the woman’s identity, but the title, ‘The Dutch Girl’, may refer to the nickname of a sex-worker in a realist novel by the nineteenth-century French author, Honoré de Balzac. The brush marks form a surface so rough that, if you look at it closely, the image seems to fragment.