Sargent attained international prominence as a fashionable society portraitist. In both formal and informal scenes Sargent captured his wealthy clients' physical and psychological natures, the gentility and sumptuousness of the era, and the impression of a fleeting moment.
In this portrait, the disposition of the elongated figure is natural and straightforward, seen in three-quarter view, with her head turned inquisitively, as though she might have walked immediately into this position and looked at Sargent. The personality of Madame Poirson is suggested by the aloofness of her gaze and the icy blue color of the background.
In 1883 John Singer Sargent rented a studio owned by Paul Poirson. According to family history, this portrait of Poirson’s wife was executed in lieu of rent payment. Sargent’s friendly relationship with the Poirsons made this work more personal than the business action might suggest.