Joseph-Henri de Bombelles (1721-1783) entered the army in 1736 and was appointed Capitaine des Gardes Française in 1765, the year in which the present portrait was executed. He held this rank until 1780, when he was promoted to Maréchal de Camp. In 1803, after the upheavals of the Revolution, he took holy orders and, at the Restoration, was appointed Bishop of Amiens.
The present portrait, along with lot 130 belongs to a large group bought by Pierre de La Mésangère in 1816, after the death of Carmontelle's friend and heir Richard de Lédans. The majority of the drawings in this series, which are distinguished by their green mounts, were purchased by the Duc d'Aumale and are now in the collection at Chantilly. The group sold at Christie's in 1992, of which this drawing formed a part, was the first selection of Carmontelle drawings to be sold since 1877 with such a direct provenance from the artist.