It is Carmen Gaudin who agreed to pose for Toulouse-Lautrec in this painting, pretending to be the prostitute Rosa la Rouge. She was made famous by the songs of Aristide Bruant, who also performed locally around the clubs of Paris. She holds a particularly aggressive expression, with a level of hostility increased by the red hair which hangs loosely. The artist created this in around 1886-1887 and used oil on canvas to put it together.
Carmen would actually model for the artist on several occasions, with several other notable artworks also included in this website. He also produced several poster portraits of Bruant, though in a much more simplistic style. These silhouettes featured minimal detail and this cafe poster method was what he would become most famous for.
These more detailed portraits remind us of members of the Impressionist movement, of which Toulouse-Lautrec was closely related. The likes of Edouard Manet, Gustave Caillebotte and Frederic Bazille used a similar style in their portraits of local French women in a variety of settings, such as bathing or relaxing in a bar or club. Some of their highlights included Isabelle Lemonnier with a Muff, Portraits in the Countryside and The Fortune Teller.