Once two artists, united by friendly feelings and closeness to the “World of Art” group, Leon Bakst and Valentin Serov, enjoying the view of the streets of Paris at night, decided to go to a cafe. In the farthest corner sat a woman whose portrait Bakst did not fail to draw on a napkin. She was Anna Kid, wife of the founder of the World of Art, Alexandre Benois. Well, the world is small ... This is especially true of Paris of those years, attracting the creative elite from other countries, including Russia, with a magnet.
The picture, transferred from a napkin to a canvas, did not go unnoticed among critics, alas, not always complacent. “An unbearable thing!”, Burst out at the sight of the canvas by the famous art connoisseur Vladimir Stasov. Although, it would seem, there is nothing shocking in the picture: more than the traditional theme of a bored stranger, an impressionistic style of writing. If several laughing men were sitting next to a woman, the canvas could be like the works of Toulouse-Lautrec and other impressionists. However, Bakst not only captures what he saw, but also seeks to transform it.
The main motive of the canvas is the dynamics of the outlines of the environment and the female figure itself, achieved by a successful juxtaposition of the rhythm of white and blue planes, the edges of the tablecloth and the undulating dress of the lady in the lower part of the picture. Then this movement freezes, as if having encountered an invisible barrier. The hands of the stranger, her face and hat, the disproportion of which makes us recall the flower bud, are already on the same line.
The artist also uses a game of color, built on the roll-call of the hair of a lady and oranges, which was done, as it were, to the peak of Serov’s realistic approach in his “Girl with Peaches”. Bakst leaves the woman’s face as if unfinished, which allowed him to emphasize the mystery, intangibility of this lady, adjacent to sensual beauty, which can reach perversity.