Within this drawing, most likely completed using pastels, we find a traditionally dressed woman looking across to our right. She wears some beautiful clothing which tells us about her occupation and also her position in society. She is smart in appearance, with a white headdress and thick looking dress which is perhaps is a light tone of orange with a ribbon running around her waist. There is also something to the top right which appears either unrelated or incomplete. After constructing the main outlines of form for this portrait, Gauguin then inserts colour into certain parts of the drawing, with green, white and orange heightening the overall look. Whilst being a charming piece in itself, the artist was likely practicing certain ideas for a later painting and so did not consider this to be something that he would have presented to anyone outside of his own studio.
Gauguin adored the lives of the ordinary, a theme which had been long ignored by most successful artists across the past centuries. Though there were some who shared his passion and curiosity, most would focus on the types of individuals that could potentially boost their own careers, perhaps displaying a certain level of snobbery within the art community at the same time. Some others who also featured the lives of the working poor or just everyday individuals, as we would see them today, would be Pieter Bruegel and Gauguin's good friend, Vincent van Gogh.
The artist leaves the date and his initials, along with a few words in French that perhaps refer to the location of this piece, in the bottom right corner. It can be considered one of his better drawings from all those that have survived to the present day. Many no doubt would have been lost or damaged and drawings can be particularly hard to identify to a particular artist's hand. That has been the case for centuries, and has not been helped by the fact that most artists have not seen their own sketches as something worth documenting. In many cases these items have also been dispersed without any records being taken and once they have left the artist's studio, many will be lost forever. Gauguin himself was somewhat secretive about his drawings and did not generally want anyone else to see them without his prior permission.