Dressed to go out, the Parisian woman is wearing an afternoon gown whose jet embroidery and velvet appliqué work set off its deep black colour. The way in which it drapes around her hips is inspired by 18th century dresses with panniers which had been updated by designers of collections for major Parisian fashion houses.
The presence of a gilded console table in the rocaille style confirms the reference to the era of Louis XV, and the interlaced design on the walls prefigures the sinuous floral curves of the Art Nouveau style.
Simone Giron, who donated this large painting to the Petit Palais was very familiar with this work which her father always kept close to him. She specifies in a monograph devoted to the painter that he met his model at Ville-d’Avray close to Paris and dubbed her the Black Diamond. Giron exhibited this portrait of a woman buttoning her long gloves at the annual exhibition of the Société nationale des Beaux-Arts [ National Fine Art Society] in 1883.
The catalogue for the retrospective exhibition staged at the Museum of Fine Art in Berne in 1955 gave her the symbolic title “The Parisian Woman”, which suited this elegant woman with her pretty, mischievous profile enhanced by a toque hat covered in black marabou feathers. Born in Switzerland, Giron trained in Paris at Cabanel’s studio and exhibited for the first time at the Salon of 1876. He divided his time between Paris, Geneva and Cannes, then went to the Swiss Alps where he painted rural scenes and mountain landscapes. His fame spread throughout Europe on account of his society portraits.
Signed bottom right: Paris Chs GIRON