The portrait depicts the Spanish diplomat José Nicolás de Azara (1730-1804), Marquis of Nibbiano, in three-quarter profile, seated at a wooden table and returning the viewer's gaze. The sitter's right arm rests on the table, and he holds a book in his right hand, his index finger inserted to mark the place. His left hand, partially cropped by the frame in the lower right corner, appears to be resting in his lap. Elegantly but simply dressed, Azara is wearing a deep blue justacorps with wide flaps, a yellow vest with red trim, and a white shirt, open at the collar. His brown hair is worn naturally, slightly curled in bobs above the ears, and his facial features are rendered with close attention to individualistic detail, including a broad forehead, fleshy neck, full lips and dimpled nose. Light enters the picture from the left, illuminating a grey background, which adds an illusion of depth to the picture despite the lack of any identifiable background details.The sitter, a friend of Mengs, was born to a wealthy Aragonese family and played an important diplomatic role in the court of King Charles Ill of Spain.