As with the self portrait and drawings of Madame Cezanne which are included within the same sketchbook, this drawing features only the head and neckline, with everything else removed. There is also the same subtle use of detail, where blank space is purposely used in order to indicate the reflection of bright light, whilst shadows of graphite are then added elsewhere. The side on profile allows us to understand the contours of his son's face, with a sharp nose which just turns up a little at its tip. His hair is smart and simply styled. One can imagine this to have been a fairly quick portrait sketch, as most elements are roughly drawn and nothing takes on too much detail. He would complete the drawing with a few harsher strokes of graphite in order to add some extra contrast, with these added to the side of his face as it looks across. This also helps to define form more clearly.
We have seen some of these portrait drawings collated recently through several research projects that have attempted to produce a more comprehensive survey of the artist's oeuvre. Hundreds have been found, some in graphite, some pencil, whilst a large number of watercolour paintings have also been officially documented. The task was difficult because of how the drawings have been separated into individual artworks since the artist's death, when previously he had kept his sketchbooks in good order. Those decisions were presumably made for financial gain, and it must be remebered that many other's artists drawings have also been dispersed in this way, with perhaps Turner's sketchbooks being the best example of that. The difficulty in pulling Cezanne's drawings back together has also hampered efforts to curate exhibitions of them, and so they are more likely to appear alongside related paintings instead.
The entry for this artwork on the website of the National Gallery of Art decribes it as being from graphite strokes on a sheet of woven paper. The entire sketchbook was like this, and features a selection of study drawings as well as some personal portraits produced more for enjoyment. He would sometimes visit art galleries and museums in order to capture certain items within these books, be it copying elements of paintings from old masters or even sitting and studying classical sculpture. This was a means to developing his understanding of light and contour, as well as perhaps preparing for later paintings. There are approximately seventy pages in total within this sketchbook and it remains one of the few from his career that were not broken up into individual pages.