This accomplished, unpublished oil sketch of a leopard being chased down by six dogs relates to a series of paintings that Jean-Baptiste Oudry created for King Louis XV in 1733. In that year, the king commissioned Oudry to create oil paintings to serve as cartoons for a tapestry cycle of large hunting scenes to be woven at the Gobelins. The artist had laid the groundwork for this project five years earlier, when in January 1728 he began work on his highly successful Louis XV Hunting the Stag near the Forest of Saint-Germain, which was installed at Marly in 1730 (now Musée des Augustins, Toulouse). The king was so pleased with Oudry's painting, that he requested the series of nine Royal Hunts, which take place in the royal forests. The finished designs were delivered to the Gobelins in 1746, where they were woven twice under Oudry's supervision. Eight finished oil paintings are preserved at the Château de Fontainebleau, and one is in the Louvre, Paris.
Although the present oil sketch cannot definitively be linked to a specific tapestry from the series, its execution with light and swift brushstroke, is comparable to that found in other oil sketches for the Royal Hunts, such as his le Forhu à la fin de la curée (Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris). Likewise, the present canvas is approximately the same size as an earlier oil sketch (53.5 x 64 cm.) depicting a boar hunt of around 1707-1712 in the Musée du Petit Palais, Paris, which dates to the early stages of the artist's career, while he was still disciple of Nicolas de Largilliere (1656-1746), to whom it was formerly attributed. For inspiration for his Royal Hunts, Oudry looked both to earlier tapestry cycles as well as to the work of Dutch and Flemish painters of the such as Abraham Hondius, Paul de Vos, Peter Paul Rubens and Frans Snyders.
Claudia Schönfeld, of the Staätliches Museum Schwerin, confirmed the attribution to Oudry upon first-hand inspection (written correspondence with the owner, 2010).