In this expansive artwork, Courbet depicts his meeting with Alfred Bruyas, a significant patron and supporter of the artist. The painting conveys the collector's admiration for Courbet's talent. The servant, as an extension of Bruyas, is captured in a gesture of utmost respect, but the key focal point is the moment of mutual appreciation shared between the artist and patron. Courbet's elevated status as a figure of great intellect and importance is highlighted by his slight backward tilt of the head and his position standing directly in the unfiltered light.
However, at the same time, Courbet's sense of self-importance is also evident in the painting. His beard points towards the patron as if in judgment, while the artist's stick is double the size of Bruyas', alluding to the artist's strength and dominance.