In his twenties the French artist Derain was a member of the revolutionary Fauve group of painters. Their works were characterised by dramatic colours and decorative patterns. By the 1920s, when 'L’Italienne' was painted, Derain had turned back to the Renaissance tradition. His work became rooted in the art of classical antiquity, concerned with strong draughtsmanship and the representation of the human figure. This picture was probably painted in Derain’s Paris studio using an Italian model. It was inspired by his trip to Italy in 1921. There, he studied the Old Masters, especially Raphael.