The friendship between the painter Benoît-Hermogaste Molin and Nadar dated to the early 1840s; by 1860 Nadar owned two works by the painter. As both men were portraitists, each brought a high degree of consciousness about posing subjects to this sitting, which took place while Molin was visiting from Italy.
In order to recall portraiture in the grand manner of Anthony Van Dyck, Nadar chose to engulf Molin in a glamorous and voluminous cape of some shiny fabric, embellished by only a complicated, knotted and looped double cord. As Molin's right arm holds the cape across his body and his left is concealed beneath the garment, Nadar must have been the one who puffed up the end of his cravat to provide an additional flourish of white fabric at the neck. Molin's head, the only visible part of his body, is fully lit, concentrating all attention on his face. The circles beneath his eyes counter-balance the tight curves of his eyebrows.