Nadar very much admired the lawyer and politician, Adolphe (Isaac-Moïse) Crémieux, whose political views often coincided with his own. Crémieux was sixty when he sat for Nadar in December of 1856 and, as an opponent of Napoleon III like Nadar, temporarily inactive in politics. Nadar began the sitting, the only one which he ever described in detail, by talking and laughing with Crémieux while placing him in the best light and adjusting the lens. Nadar seems to have placed the camera slightly lower than the subject's eye level, giving him added stature.
Crémieux's contemporaries thought the sitter peculiar in both appearance and manner, although his wife disagreed, insisting that Nadar agree with her that her husband was handsome. At least in retrospect the photographer agreed, finding the man beautiful in the tenderness he inspired and merited but more truly–if unconventionally–beautiful because of his "superior intelligence, infinite goodness, perpetual forbearance, love of justice, and above all the inalterable serenity of his pure conscience."
Nadar offered this kind of oval print, an edition print, for sale in his studio. Along with his portrait of Madame Crémieux, this image is exceptional in part because more is known about the circumstances of its making than any of Nadar's other portraits.