Firmin-Girard's keen attention to detail is his trademark; as one critic described "one can count dead leaves on the ground, one can count ladybirds on dead leaves, and one can even give oneself the pleasure of counting the points on the ladybirds backs" (as quoted in Paul Girard, Firmin-Girard par son petit-fils, Orléans, 1998, p. 7). His talent is particularly evident in this small composition, with the artist's subject seated on a painted iron chair, surrounded by geraniums on a verdant garden path. The model wears a fashionable black dress, and the artist uses texture and trim embellishment to break up the dark color; the overskirt has scalloped edging and is trimmed with furbelows, while the underskirt appears to have a velvet stripe pattern on it. Her hair is casually styled under a straw garden hat, decorated with flowers.
Firmin-Girard moved to Paris in the early 1850s to attend the École des Beaux Arts, and by the age of sixteen he was studying in the ateliers of Charles Gleyre and Jean-Léon Gérôme. He made his debut at the Salon in 1859, when three works were accepted by the Jury, and two years later he was the runner up for the Prix de Rome. His Après le bal won a third-class medal in the Salon of 1863 and was purchased by Princess Mathilde, resulting in greater prestige for the artist and many valuable commissions. At the 1874 Salon, Firmin-Girard was awarded a second-class medal and later, in 1896, he was decorated with the Légion d'honneur.
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