When John Singer Sargent painted English artist Albert de Belleroche in Paris, he had recently received acclaim for El Jaleo (1882), a large painting of Spanish musicians and dancers. Belleroche later described this portrait's initial appearance as "three-quarter life-size . . . of a young man in Florentine costume . . . holding a large double-handed sword." Sargent was at the time also at work on a portrait of Virginie Avegno, Mme. Gautreau, which obtained notoriety for its risqué dress as Madame X at the Salon of 1884. Belleroche, depicted by Sargent in three other paintings, might have also been the subject of a profile drawing long thought to represent Gautreau. Sargent and Belleroche, who became a lithographer, remained friends after Sargent moved to London following the Madame X scandal. The painting remained in Sargent's collection, one of his favorite images.