As a student, Louis Jean François Lagrenée won the Prix de Rome at the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1749. Following a brief stay in Rome, he was received into the Académie in 1755 with the completion of a painting that earned him favorable comparisons with Guido Reni. From 1760 until 1762, he directed the Saint Petersburg Academy at the Russian court. Upon his return to Paris, Lagrenée became a professor at the French Académie and received a range of important public commissions. Critics nonetheless considered his medium-size and small paintings to be his greatest strength, and they were highly sought after by private collectors.
Lagrenée played an important part in the French movement away from the Rococo style toward a more restrained, classicizing expression. Deliberately rejecting the exuberant, artificial aesthetic of the mid-1700s, he revived instead the previous century's taste for cool colors and polished, refined technique.