Toulouse-Lautrec created many portraits of clowness cha u kao, making her one of his favourite models. The piece covered here was a particularly upbeat work and was titled clowness Cha-u-Kao at the Moulin Rouge.
She was an entertainer in local Parisien cabaret clubs, having made the transition to dance once her body was unable to handle the rigours of gymnastics any longer. She was also just as deeply embedded in the community of late night Paris as her friend, Henri. They shared much in common in that regard as well as having many mutual friends built up of the years of frequenting such establishments. The artist makes use of his skills in depicting drapery in this scene as well as capturing the glamorous lives of the performers. He would always capture what he saw, good or bad, and several other portraits that he produced of clowness cha u kao put her in a much more sombre setting.