We are going to learn what inspired him to paint this artwork, its symbolisms and where the piece can be found. The woman in the painting was Lydia Delectorskaya. She was a Russian émigré in France. Lydia had been working for Henri for the last twenty years. The painter had bought some fabric from Paris and then she used the fabric to make the robe shown in the painting.
An average person looking at the painting will first point out how exaggerated the dress looks. The painter may have intended for his audience to focus more on the dressing than the woman. Just like in modern fashion runway shows, you will notice models wearing dresses that a person would not wear in public. This painting may have been ahead of its time since this was the only time she wore the dress.
The painting was made during the Expressionism Era. This is an era where artwork was distorted or exaggerated to convey an artist's emotion rather than the outward meaning of the painting. He wrote to a painter named Pierre Bonnard that his drawing conveyed the emotions he felt at the time. The dress has two distinct colours: white and blue. He admitted the colours depicted the relationship between light (white) and space (blue).
Critics have pointed out how the painting is simplistic due to the skilful use of a few colours like red, yellow, blue, black and white. Each of the colours contrasts each other such that you can differentiate an object from another. If the painter chose to paint the background blue while the lady retains her blue dress, it would be overly confusing as to what she is wearing. Part of being a skilled painter is the ability to mix colours well.
The painting is currently at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, USA. Henri had made some adjustments to his painting. In the first version, the woman simply leaned to her side. In other versions, the woman was painted with beads in her right hand and her face was more expressionless. The museum has all the versions of this painting.