Referred to as the "Michelangelo of the menagerie" by critic Théophile Gautier, Antoine-Louis Barye was about sixty when he posed for Nadar. The son of a Parisian jeweler, he studied animal anatomy thoroughly in books, in laboratories, and at the zoo. When a lion died, he and Eugène Delacroix dissected it. Here his stern visage reflects the notably taciturn man who, although he taught drawing, rarely spoke to his students, correcting their work simply by retouching. The overall effect of self-contained if melancholy dignity, of a man who has survived adversity and is beholden to no one, accords well with contemporary descriptions of Barye. His connection with Nadar was probably established through the painters who were friends of both. Barye was seldom photographed, and this image by Nadar, one of the few existing portraits, was later used as the basis for an etching.