This portrait was one of the first pictures Gauguin painted on Tahiti. In Noa Noa he wrote: "In order to familiarize myself with the distinctive characteristics of the Tahitian face, I had wished
for a long time to make a portrait of one of my neighbours, a young woman of pure Tahirian extraction.
"While she was curiously examining certain religious compositions of the Italian primitives, I hastened, without her noticing it, to sketch her portrait. She saw it, and with a pout cried out abruptly, 'A ita!' (no) and fled.
"She was not at all handsome according to our aesrhetic rules.
"She was beauriful.