An incredibly prolific artist of Veronese origin, Jacopo Ligozzi moved to Florence around 1576, where he entered into the service of Francesco I de Medici. Ligozzi became official court painter upon the Grand Duke's accession in 1587, and was actively involved in the decoration of the Medici apartments, as well as the loggia, Tribuna and rooms that later became the Uffizi gallery. In addition to painting numerous portraits, frescoes and altarpieces, he worked as a miniaturist, festival designer, printmaker and scientific draughtsman, making drawings of plants, animals and costume studies for his ducal patron. Ligozzi also enjoyed tremendous success as a designer of pietre dure and glass. The artist matriculated in the Accademia del Disegno in 1578, and served there in an official capacity for many years.
The present painting represents Saint Louis of France astride a powerful white horse. The king, who was canonized by Pope Boniface VIII in 1297, appears as a young crusader dressed in armor, in a pose highly reminiscent of François Clouet's circa 1450 Equestrian Portrait of François Ier (Uffizi, Florence). Saint Louis holds royal baton crested with a fleur de lis in his right hand, and a simple golden halo crowns his head. When this painting sold in 1996, the catalogue tentatively advanced the theory that this was a disguised portrait of Luigi Gonzaga, the canonized son of Don Ferrante Gonzaga. Ligozzi had, in fact, travelled to Mantua and Ferrara and worked for the Gonzaga court from 1593 to 1602, producing multiple portraits of that family (all of which are lost).