Although scholars know nothing about the sitter Monsieur Quatrehomme, they believe that his relaxed pose and casual dress indicate that he may have been a friend of the artist. Charles Le Brun built up the drawing slowly, first sketching the figure in red chalk, with pentimenti visible along the outside of the right arm. He worked the body mainly in black and white chalk, applying pastel more freely in the hand holding the book and in the loose folds of drapery spilling over the left arm. The artist drew the face and hair more tightly, carefully showing the sitter's furrowed brow and the dark shadows under his eyes.
Lebrun's choice of pose infused vitality into a rather static portrait. Quatrehomme gazes intently to the left, while his hands holding the book sweep to the right, creating a sense of movement. The illumination coming from behind the sitter's head also reinforces the outlines and brings a sculptural clarity to the form.