The works of the Romantic painter Decamps are recognizable for their lively technique and the artist’s vigorous brushwork, not for the scrupulous execution of every detail. Paying no heed to the rendering of an ideal beauty in his simple, often naive scenes, he was a master of the art of chiaroscuro. Here, in a canvas of shadow and light, he takes an ironic look at human vanity. Setting great store by contrasts, he explored lighting effects in the style of the master he wished to emulate, Rembrandt, his favourite painter. Beginning in 1823, Decamps started portraying monkeys in his work. Such “singeries” were part of an iconographic tradition influenced by works of the Flemish masters, that tradition had been reflected in the works of Watteau and Chardin in the age of enlightenment.