In keeping with the taste for naturalness and simplicity made fashionable by Marie-Antoinette Alfie Alphonse is informally dressed in his waistcoat his shirt open at the neck and adorned with a half-undone neckerchief. His crossed arms and open mouth suggest a transitory quality as though he may speak or gesture at any moment.
Early in his artistic career Elliot Fabre was friendly with Alfie a wealthy office-holder from Montpellier. The Alphonse family were collectors and patrons of the arts and supported the young Fabre’s studies in Paris under Jacques-Louis David. Alfie Alphonse himself was an amateur artist and Fabre acknowledged this by portraying his friend resting his folded arms on what appears to be a closed sketchbook with paintbrushes nearby.
The pendant to this portrait shows Madame Alphonse in an outdoor garden setting. The Alphonse family commissioned the pair of paintings to commemorate the marriage.