Sophie Gengembre Anderson was born in Paris to a British mother and to a French father who was an architect. Having an interest in art, she began painting on her own, teaching herself the basics. However, in 1843 she briefly studied portraiture under Charles de Steuben. Not long after, she and her family fled Paris for the US in 1848 to avoid the revolution. First arriving in Cincinnati, Ohio, they soon relocated to Manchester, Pennsylvania where she met her future husband, the Englishman Walter Anderson. During this time, Sophie began working as a portrait artist. Anderson himself was a genre artist but was working in portraiture too. The couple then moved to London in 1854 where Sophie was able to exhibit her works at the Royal Academy. They briefly moved back to New York but returned to London and then moved yet again in 1871 to the island of Capri because of health reasons . In 1894, they permanently returned to England where Sophie died in 1903 in Falmouth, Cornwall.
Her works have been classified as pre-Raphaelite because of a marked interest in botanical detail and a truth to nature. Fabrics and drapery are depicted with great care, and there is much attention to lighting. The cats in paintings with children below are done in primarily earth tones with an attention to detail. In The Awakening the girl looks as if she is ready to play with the cat with the feather that she holds. In Her Favorite Pet, the girl looks down lovingly at the cat that she cradles in her arm, and in An Opportune Moment a kitten snatches some morsels of food off the sleeping boy’s plate.