In 1918, van Dongen began a long-term relationship with Jasmy Alvin, known as Jasmy La Dogaresse, an ambitious woman who helped to launch his career in a new direction with her connections to the Parisian fashion scene. In their new residence, van Dongen held exhibitions on the ground floor and Jasmy hosted extravagant parties attended by influential members of high society. This period of van Dongen's career became known as the folle époque and secured his popularity. According to Denys Sutton, "During the 1920s, van Dongen became one of the most talked of figures in the French art world and it is only necessary to run through the volume of press cuttings belonging to [his daughter] to be aware of the fact that his name was news. He was a frequent visitor to Deauville, where the smart world gathered, and to the cabarets and restaurants of Paris. What appealed to him about the années folles were their movement and gaiety. He once said: 'I passionately love the life of my time so animated, so feverish! Ah! Life is even more beautiful than painting'" (Cornelius Theodorus Marie van Dongen 1877-1968 (exhibition catalogue), Nelson Gallery - Atkins Museum, The University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson, 1971, p. 46).
The present work is a striking example of the stylized features which characterize many of van Dongen's paintings from the 1920s. Van Dongen has chosen to depict his model with sultry eyes, fiery red lips and a radiant glow, characteristic of many of his femmes fatales. Bejeweled in a necklace that playfully showcases his signature, the present work is an idealized portrait of a high society lady set against a warm background defined only by a few falling leaves and a halo of dark pink vines. At the time he painted this work, he was still working with a Fauvist vocabulary of vibrant colors, but his art was now taking a more sophisticated turn, primarily in response to the tastes of his clientele. According to Donald Kuspit, “Fauvism is eager for art to have the vital power of the female. It is this that the Fauvist images of females pursue, and that van Dongen articulates with a special vehemence. For me, his most important pictures are those of women… The female theme continues throughout his life” (Donald Kuspit, “Kees van Dongen: Unequivocal Colour and Equivocal Sexuality,” in Kees van Dongen (exhibition catalogue), Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 1989-90, pp. 37-39).