A favorably disposed nineteenth-century critic described the fiery sculptor Antoine Augustin Préault thus: "The fever of poetry, the drunkenness of beauty, the horror of vulgarity, and the madness of glory possessed and tormented Préault." Nadar's portrait captured the sculptor's turbulent energy through the tense twist of the pose. Préault's body turns to his right, his head slightly to the left, and his eyes farther to his left. His folded arms wrap around his body, momentarily holding in check his considerable physical and intellectual power, the better to be unleashed.
By using strong overhead diagonal light to shape the large dome of the head and to cast half the face into shadow, Nadar emphasized the gravity of Préault's presence. Sitter and photographer produced a portrait that reveals the essence of the man rather than merely his appearance.