This drawing is one of a series of preparatory studies for three group portraits of members of the Institut de France commissioned in 1827 by Vicomte Sosthènes de la Rochefoucauld, head of the Départment des Beaux-Arts for the royal household. The project was abandoned in 1830 owing to the Revolution but many of the preparatory portraits still exist, including 37 in the Louvre (J. Guiffrey and P. Marcel, Inventaire général des dessins de l'école française, Paris, 1911, VI, nos. 4701-37).
Alexandre-Vincent Pineux-Duval, called Alexandre Duval (1767-1842) was a French actor and playwriter. Brother of the painter Amaury-Duval, he is the author of more than sixty plays and was director of the Théâtre de l'Odéon between 1810-15. He was elected at the Académie française in 1812.