The composition, a key development of the iconography of the Sun King, was created by Pierre Mignard to celebrate the capture of Maastricht in 1673. The original commission, for the painting now in the Louvre, Paris, dated from 1674, but several versions are known, including those at Versailles and the Galleria Sabaudia, Turin. Mignard was to return to the theme in the later Equestrian Portrait of Louis XIV, crowned by Victory, before the Siege of Namur of 1693-4 now at Versailles; the original composition, however, derives from Rubens, who introduced the so-called levade pose through his studio in the so-called Riding School (c. 1615; formerly Kaiser-Friedrich Museum, Berlin), subsequently employing it himself in the Equestrian Portrait of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham (1625-7; formerly Earl of Jersey, Osterley Park; destroyed by fire 1949); the Equestrian portrait of King Philip IV (1628; formerly Madrid, Alcazar; destroyed by fire 1734); and the Equestrian portrait of the Cardinal Infante at the battle of Nordlingen (c. 1635-9; Madrid, Prado).
The siege of Maastricht was one of the earlier campaigns in Louis ’XVI's Dutch war of 1672-9, following the celebrated crossing of the Rhine the previous year. The success of the siege, at which Louis was present, was to a large degree enabled by the masterful strategic direction of Sèbastien le Prestre Vauban, who introduced a complete system of parallels: trenches dug parallel or concentric to the perimeter of the defenses and connected by radical zig-zag trenches that made the approach comparatively safe from the defenders' artillery fire. The siege, at which the Duke of Monmouth and the future Duke of Marlborough were present on the French side, was also noteworthy for the death whilst storming the Tongerse Poort (a bastion outside one of the city gates) of the commander of the King’s bodyguard of musketeers: Marshal Charles de Batz Castelmore, comte d’Artagnan, the inspiration for Dumas’ celebrated hero.