‘Marì tal-Bajd’ is a landmark in Maltese 20th-century portraiture. As a non-commissioned work, this portrait is less formal and more expressive. The sitter is presented in a frontal position dressed as a typical street hawker.
Stylistically the work captures Barthet’s interest in Cezannesque brushwork and Van Gogh’s psychological interpretation of people. The latter is clearly represented in the facial expression and the earthiness of the sitter can also be compared to Van Gogh’s “Potato Eaters”. The sitter's particular character is further enhanced by the texture of the paint which is worked with a palette knife.
The composition leads the attention of the viewer to the sitter’s unpretentious face, down to her hands: two strong elements that introduce the spectator to a person working outdoors in the elements. Barthet shows interest in a more experimental format which was very popular throughout the century especially in central Europe.