Dorothy Zenobia Lias (1895-1923), or her family, probably commissioned this portrait to commemorate her graduation from Charlottesville's Jefferson Graded School.
It was common for young women, both Black and white, to pose for graduation portraits in white dresses. It is possible that her mother, Fannie Lias, who was a seamstress, made the dress.
Zenobia married Tyree Arthur Barbour in 1913. The couple made their home in Charlottesville's Rose Hill neighborhood.
Fannie Lias is notable for having been one of the first women in Charlottesville to register to vote after the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.