The only son of Louis-Alexandre de Bourbon, Comte de Toulouse, and his wife Marie Victoire de Noailles, Louis-Jean-Marie was a grandson of Louis XIV and his mistress the Marquise de Montespan. After his father’s death in 1737 he succeeded to his military titles and posts at the age of twelve. He served under his maternal uncle the Maréchal de Noailles, and fought with distinction at Dettingen in 1743 and at Fontenoy in 1745. On 2 July 1743 he was promoted to Maréchal de Camp (Field Marshal) and the following year to Lieutenant Général. He was a member of both the Order of the Golden Fleece and the Order of the Holy Spirit.
As the possessor of one of the largest fortunes in Europe, Louis-Jean-Marie was a very attractive marriage candidate, especially considering his close links with the French royal family. In 1744, Louis married Marie Thérèse Félicité d'Este, Princess de Modena (1726-1754). She was the daughter of Francesco III d'Este, sovereign Duke of Modena and of Reggio. The young couple occupied a suite of apartments at Versailles until the reign of Louis XVI of France. They had seven children, only two of whom survived infancy. His wife died in childbirth in 1754. Deeply hurt by his loss, the duke never re-married. Louis died in 1793 at his Château de Bizy. Only his daughter Louise Marie Adélaïde survived him and through her marriage to Louis-Philippe-Joseph d'Orléans, known to history as Philippe Égalité, the vast fortune passed into the house of Orleans.
Autograph versions of the present composition include a half-length, sold at Christie's, London, 21 April 1989, lot 69 (£100,000) and a bust-length version sold at Sotheby's, New York, 17 January 1985, lot 144 ($27,500).