Louis II de Bourbon, Le Grand Condé, was born in 1621 in Paris. He was one of France's greatest military leaders and he is best remembered for his legendary victories at Rocroi, Fribourg, Nordlingen and against Austria at Lens.
This particular scene depicts the surrender of the Spanish on May 19, 1643, after the battle of Rocroi. Louis II de Bourbon, duc d'Enghien at the age of 22 had defeated the Spanish army commanded by Mélon de Braganza. With this victory came French military supremacy and the gradual decrease of the Spanish force within Europe.
At the time of the Fronde (1648-53) - series of outbreaks during the minority of King Louis XIV - Louis II de Bourbon absconded to the Spanish side and was condemned to death as a traitor. Later he reconciled himself with Louis XIV and was restored to his great military leadership in France. Considering Louis XIV's character this was no small achievement by any means.
Louis II de Bourbon was considered as one of the most extraordinary and controversial leaders of his time. He was a man of wide intellectual interests, of unconventional habits, and possessed of an uncommonly sound independence of mind. His attitude both to religion and to politics was unorthodox, for he was as rebellious to ecclesiastical dogma as to the authority of the King. He was a great protector of artists and intellectuals, including the famous Molihre and La Bruyhre, who was his son's tutor.
One of the most unusual and notable of the world's famous diamonds - a 50 carat light pink, pear-shaped Grand Condé diamond - was presented to Louis II de Bourbon by King Louis XIV to distinguish him as the Grand Condé (currently on display at Musee de Condé in Chantilly). It is said that when Le Grand Condé arrived at Versailles to see the King he would climb unhurriedly up the now destroyed escallier de ambassadeurs which would prompt the King to announce 'Take your time, my cousin, the weight of the laurels of victory is slowing you down'. This very scene was painted by the famous Orientalist painter Jean-Léon Gérôme with the title'Réception de Condé à Versailles'. (G. Ackerman, Jean-Léon Gérôme, Coubevoie/Paris, 2000, p. 292, nos. 265 and 265.2).