The painting itself features a tall, slim woman in side profile. She is dressed in a black blouse with thick brown skirt and appears to be holding a newspaper. She is sat within a wicker chair and is likely to have been in the artist's studio at the time of this painting being completed. Indeed, we see some stretched canvases at the back of the room, and the chair itself is similar to one found in a number of his other portraits. The model, Hélène Vary, has her hair up for this portrait and looks fairly serious as she stares off into the distance. Her face is feminine and highly suitable for portraiture, though with some features which are slightly angular. The artist liked to work in a similar manner to the Impressionists, where detail was added but not with the same precision as members of the Realism movement. We therefore get an impression of what he could see at the time. Along the floor is wood panelling, which is also what one might expect to find within an artist's studio.
This artwork fell into disrepair after being stored dueing WWII but thankfully an expert discovered the piece and retrieved it. The piece was then returned to the current owners, Kunsthalle Bremen, who have better looked after it. Hélène Vary was 17 years old at the time of this painting and lived close to the artist's studio. She would model several times for Toulouse-Lautrec and was a lucky combination of just the right look, whilst also being accessible in Montmatre. Despite her youthful age, the model looks confident, with back upright, and this suggests that she was from a very good background. The item was created using gouache on cardboard, and remains an important part of the permanent collection of the Kunsthalle Bremen which is to be found in North-West Germany.
The Kunsthalle Bremen best serves Post-Impressionist and Expressionist art, making Toulouse-Lautrec a perfect addition. North European artists are well served here, with highlights including the likes of Boulevard of the Parrots by Max Liebermann, Ballet Russes I by August Macke, The Child and Death by Edvard Munch and also Deer in the Flower Garden by Franz Marc. German art has much to offer across a good variety of different art periods, dating back to the Northern Renaissance, and then coming all the way up to the present day, with the German Expressionists of the early 20th century. Lautrec is also one of a number of important French artists who can be found here too.