The portrait, painted in about 1830, depicts the father of Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli. Giuseppe, at the time over sixty years old. The attention is focused on the man, with his serious and thoughtful expression, and only indication of the setting is the armchair, which is still in the Museum. The magnificent neo-baroque wooded frame, carved and gilded, contrasts with the sobriety of the painting.
Giuseppe Molteni, well-known as a restorer as well as a painter, was a fashionable portraitist among the aristocracy and the leading Lombard bourgeoisie. He was a friend of the Poldi Pezzoli family and a frequent guest at their house. Besides the portrait of Giuseppe, he also painted those of his wife Rosa Trivulzio and of Gian Giacomo as a child.