Théo Van Rysselberghe was born into a upper class family in Ghent. As part of his artistic training at the Brussels Academy, it was considered self-evident that he would carry on the tradition of portrait painting. In 1882 he won a travel bursary which he used to visit Spain and Morocco in the company of Constantin Meunier, Dario de Regoyos and Frantz Charlet. This exotic experience would serve as a source of inspiration throughout his career, and he would return to Morocco on two subsequent occasions. In addition to his relations with his fellow artists, Van Rysselberghe also enjoyed the friendship of influential Symbolist writers such as Charles van Lerberghe, Grégoire Le Roy and notably Maurice Maeterlinck. In 1883 Van Rysselberghe was one of the founders of the group known as ‘Les XX’, with whom Seurat would exhibit for the first time in 1887. Typical of Van Rysselberghe is his broad vision of neo-Impressionism. His early works are still very much in the style of Whistler and Degas, but after his encounter with the work of Seurat he began to apply the theory of pointillism to the genre of portrait painting.