An elegant young man with large, liquid eyes reclines languidly on a large cushion, pausing to look up from his reading. Raymond Henri de Staal de Magnoncourt, elder son of the Comte de Magnoncourt, was about sixteen years old when this drawing was made and dedicated to his mother in the bottom corner. His dreamy expression, rumpled yet elegant clothes, tousled hair, and the overall ambiance of artistic beauty and inspiration vividly capture the essence of the Romantic period.
Théodore Chassériau brought a sense of poetry and emotion to his portraiture. He used delicate, almost imperceptible lines to create the sitter's face and hands. Soft shading shapes the boy's round cheek, squashed up under his eye as he rests his head on his hand. In contrast, Chassériau drew the boy's clothing with dark, strong lines, clearly emphasizing the precise, elegant hatching that creates the fabric's shadows and folds.