In the spring of 1890 Berthe Morisot and her husband, Eugène Manet, rented a house with a garden overlooking the Seine River in the rural French town of Mézy. Morisot worked in the attic studio while the pair was there. A young boy from the village served as the model for this pastel, one of several studies for a full-length painting of Saint John the Baptist with his cross. In this drawing, Morisot developed the loose and sketchy marks that would characterize her final canvas.
This pastel's first owner was Berthe Morisot's daughter, Julie Manet, and her husband Ernest Rouart.