At the age of 80, the Livorno-based painter Giovanni Fattori is still active and paints this portrait of his partner Fanny Martinelli, a close friend of his second wife Marianna Bigazzi (married in 1891, who died on 1 May 1903), whom he will marry in 1907. As in other portraits of loved ones, for example Portrait of the First Wife (c. 1865, Rome, National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art), here too Fattori leaves an intense memory of the woman who had become "at home", "full of care e regards »(letter to his stepdaughter Giulia, 19 August 1903), and who died a few months before Fattori, in May 1908. The portrait was exhibited in 1906 at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts in Milan.
Fanny Martinelli is portrayed here at 63, her gray hair gathered behind her neck, her gaze averted from the viewer and absorbed in his thoughts, in a simple, dark dress, illuminated only by the light-colored collar. The woman is reclining on a red velvet armchair, enriched with white lace, with her hands crossed on her lap. The environment is intimate and collected, characterized and made even more familiar by the painting hanging on the back wall, evocation of Maremma Mandrie. The work is made with a fluid and flaky brushstroke and with soft and shaded passages of color.