Marie Azélie Haydel was the commissioner of the paintings, which are still adorning the interior and the exterior of the main house on Whitney Plantation. These were not just mere decorations since she used them to pay homage to her deceased husband by having his initials monogrammed in cartouches and disposed at the four corners of the paintings drawn on the ceiling of the upstairs living room. This was very likely done in the 1840s when increased tariff protection generated higher profit and the subsequent rise in the number of sugar plantations. Dominici Canova, the alleged artist, was the author of many decorative paintings in New Orleans and its countryside, including an altarpiece and a fresco for the St. Louis Cathedral and the decorative paintings of San Francisco Plantation. The Marmillions, the owners of this plantation, were closely related to the Haydels.
In 1860, shortly before her death, Azélie was listed among the largest slaveholders in the State. Her estate was estimated to nearly 187,000 piastres (dollars). The landed property was composed of several farms operated by a work force of one hundred and one slaves. The high quality and complex decorative paintings, both interior and exterior applications, place the main house on the plantation in a category by itself in Louisiana and the South, since no other application of exterior decorative painting is known to survive or even have existed in Louisiana. The elaborate ornamentation conveyed to all visitors at Whitney the high level of economic success and cultural sophistication the Haydels had attained. However, it should never be forgotten that the process of perpetual economic growth, which led to luxury, was made possible by the hard work of hundreds of African slaves and their descendants.