As was typical of Kobilca, in this portrait of a curly-haired boy in a sailor suit, the emphasis is on the face and clasped hands, while the other parts of the painting are more sketchlike – the boy’s legs, hanging over the edge of the chair, fade into the canvas. The diagonal composition leaves the upper left-hand portion of the painting to the background; its dark blue is interrupted by the greenish-blue tones of the chair. The height of the chair gives the measure of the boy’s height. The colour contrasts with the colour of the boy’s sailor suit and the arm of the chair separates the boy from the viewer; Kobilca did not paint the chair arm on the other side and likewise only hinted at the chair legs.
Kobilca’s “blue period” was influenced by her Parisian patron Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824–1898) and events in her circle of friends. Puvis de Chavannes was stylistically separate from academic and modernist art and influenced a series of Symbolists, Expressionists and Post-Impressionists. He also influenced literature, theatre, music and film. His compositions were monumental, refined and imbued with a blue colour that reflected wisdom, serenity, sublimity and melancholy.