Jules Frederic Ballavoine received his formal art training at L'Ecole de Beaux-Arts under the historical painter Isidore Alexandre Augustin Pils. Ballavoine debuted at the Salon of 1877, and exhibited at the Salon throughout his career. At the 1886 Paris Salon, he was awarded a metal for La seance interrompue; throughout his career he received critical acclaim for his delicate still lifes, portraits, Paris street scenes, and historical genre paintings.
Our small panel, Watching the Races at Longchamp, is unique in composition and delicately rendered. A young woman with her dog sits watching the races from a distance. The faintly rendered horses in the distance allude to the action and excitement, while the figure in the foreground, which dominates the composition, exudes a quiet stillness. Ballavoine uses soft, light brushstrokes and a muted palette dominated by greens to paint the surroundings, but focuses on the figure, depicting the fine detailing of the dress and accessories. The brushwork on the lace of her dress and the flowers on her hat are loose yet emphasized; the vibrant red flowers, socks, and umbrella stand out against the muted greens of the background, drawing the viewer's attention to the woman. The work conveys an overall sense of peaceful enjoyment.