In the work of Henri Cros, brother of the poet Charles Cros, portraits of his contemporaries are far less common than fantasy portraits or retrospective portraits. This one was commissioned by Alexandre Dumas fils, the sculptor's first patron, who, from 1869 financed his experiments with polychrome waxes.
When his daughter was born in 1867, Dumas gave Jeannine the name of the heroine of one of his plays, Madame Aubray's Ideas, written the same year. A delightful little girl, described by the Goncourts as intelligent and mischievous, Jeannine made her father forget that he had wanted a boy, and became his favourite.
Exhibited at the Salon in 1872, this small medallion, although somewhat ordinary at first glance, greatly impressed his contemporaries. An article by Jean Aicard in La Renaissance littéraire et artistique demonstrates this: "This art form of waxes is full of mysteries, secrets and charms. The art of the painter and the art of the sculptor come together here. What skill is required to blend exact tones and diverse colours in such a slippery and elusive material! This material is a strange thing in itself, neither vegetable nor mineral, and seems to retain something of life itself, a memory of light! Certainly, this is what M. Henry Cros sees and loves in these waxes he presents to us".