Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer started his artistic career as a ceramicist, his practice of pastel remaining in the shadows until 1896. His talent in using the technique came to light at a one-man exhibition devoted to him at the prestigious Georges Petit gallery in Paris.
Lévy-Dhurmer’s art was based on a great mastery of drawing and a confident line with very clear outlines. He would use shading on occasion to render skin texture and model his faces, particularly in the Portrait de Georges Rodenbach and La Femme à la médaille, but he also used tiny fine lines of pastel that could not be seen from a distance, in a highly graphic way, to shape his figures. The resulting animation of the surface played a part in the mysterious aura of his pastels. In his later works, like La Calanque, he juxtaposed a multitude of hatched or parallel lines with bright and often complementary shades to create surprising lightwaves.