Mr. Ramel de Nogaret was a long-time friend of David, first in Paris and then in exile in Brussels. Both had been legislators during the Revolution and had voted for the death of the king. The restless pose, downward gaze, and library setting emphasize that Nogaret is an intellectual. The portrait is boldly contemporary, without any nostalgia for their shared past.
Madame Ramel de Nogaret, by contrast, has a rigid posture and a passive stare. The stark cropping, frontal pose, and smooth finish demonstrate David's new interest in Northern Renaissance art.