Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom and war, strides forward to protect Painting, Sculpture, Music, Justice, and Medicine, the attributes of which lie at her feet.
Augustin Pajou's midsize marble statues were generally intended for wealthy collectors. Scholars believe this piece was originally owned by Duke Étienne-François de Choiseul, an important member of the French aristocracy and a collector of paintings and prints. Choiseul also had a predilection for refined cabinet sculptures, like Pajou's figure of Minerva, and owned at least two other works by the sculptor. Pajou's accomplished rendering of antiquity, very much consistent with Enlightenment taste in the late 1700s, undoubtedly appealed to Choiseul. The subject of the statuette aptly reflects Choiseul's love of art, his diplomatic skills, and his position as secretary of state for war under the French king Louis XV.