A pupil of Bon de Boullongne, Robert Levrac-Tournières married Françoise Lemoyne (mother of the painter François Lemoyne) in 1693. Tournières was admitted an associate of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1701 and became a full member in 1702 as a portraitist, and later as a history painter in 1716. "Encouraged by the auspicious success of his small pictures, Tournières abandoned larger compositions and devoted his career to painting small portrait historiés or sujets de caprice in the manner of Schalken or Gerard Dou. His aim was to imitate their beautiful colors, their seductive reflections and this precious fini which must be appreciated," wrote Dézallier d'Argenville in 1762.
Tournières's charming portrait of his friend and patron Pierre de la Roche illustrates just the sort of 'small portrait histories' to which Dézallier d'Argenville referred. Precise, miniaturist, and executed with the 'precious finish' that very successfully reminds the viewer of the paintings of Godfried Schalken and other 17th-century Dutch 'little masters'.
A self-portrait of the artist with Pierre de la Roche was sold by Christie's, New York on 30 January 2014, lot 201.