As he was of royal blood, Leopold, Count of Syracuse was an atypical sitter for the antimonarchical Nadar. How he found his way to Nadar's studio is something of a mystery. Married to a prudish princess whom he apparently disliked, Leopold settled into a life of earthly pleasures, political dissent, lavish generosity, and patronage of the arts. He was nonetheless a talented and ambitious amateur sculptor whose wealth and position made it possible for him to erect public monumental sculptures of his own creation in his native Naples.
Alluding to Leopold's job as sculptor or to Renaissance princely portraiture, Nadar arranged a great swath of velvet over his sitter's shoulder, effectively shielding his big body. Beneath this sweep of fabric, Leopold appears to wear only a simple shirt with a banded edge, a surprisingly unassuming costume for one of his rank. Together face, drapery, and lighting produce an effect strongly reminiscent of Titian's portraits.