In Nadar's portrait, the society painter Alexis Pérignon exudes a well-dressed prosperity slightly at odds with his weary expression. In 1856 he was decorated with the Legion of Honor, whose insignia he appears to wear on his outer lapel.
Nadar's portrait of Pérignon bears scant resemblance to the painter's own work, save for his elaborate wardrobe. He is sad-eyed, his expression nearly plaintive, and he has no illusions about the image of gentle fatigue he will present. Although not impatient, he perhaps wished the photographic process were over–despite its brevity when compared to the multiple sittings required for his portrait paintings. By sitting for Nadar, Pérignon perhaps tacitly recognized the power of photography to endanger and supplant his own field of endeavor.