Muenier was twenty-three when he painted this portrait of his mother in law, Madame Pâris. So it is a rare, early work by this eminent exponent of Naturalism, who was forgotten after his death. However, during his lifetime, several of his paintings had been bought by the state. At the time, they hung alongside the very best of contemporary art in the Musée du Luxembourg.
Madame Pâris is represented seated in a Voltaire chair. Her body and her legs are slightly turned to the left, but she is looking directly towards the painter. The austere representation of the model stands out from an indistinct background where there is an interplay of various shades of brown. In the midst of these rapidly painted, dark, chromatic variations, light comes in from the left highlighting her face and her carefully painted hands.
A moving, almost intimate work, this Portrait of Madame Pâris heralded the rigorous style of painting that Jules-Alexis Muenier subsequently developed.