This state portrait is understood to have been painted in 1675 when Mignard was working in Milan at the court of the Duke of Savoy. It commemorates the accession of Vittorio Amedeo to the throne in the same year, at the age of nine, following the death of his father, Duke Carlo Emanuele II of Savoy.
Vittorio Amedeo did not pronounce himself ruler until 1684 when he married Anne d'Orlans. Disliking his ambitious mother, Jeanne-Baptiste de Nemours (who had continued to exercise the regency between 1675 and 1684) and her policy of dependence on France, Vittorio Amedeo pursued a more balanced attitude in foreign affairs. He continued to negotiate with France, but also protected the interests of the House of Savoy and freed it from French domination by forming alliances with the Empire and England. By the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713 Vittorio Amedeo had gained the Kingdom of Sicily, but exchanged this in 1720 to become King of Sardinia. He abdicated in 1730 but attempted to regain power in 1731 and in doing so was arrested by his son Carlo Emanuele III and imprisoned in the Castle of Rivoli. He died from the effects of confinement the following year.
The present portrait is similar in pose and character to that of the sitter's cousin, the young Max Emanuel of Bavaria, which Mignard had painted while working at the court of the Elector of Bavaria in Munich from 1673-4 (catalogue of the exhibition, Kurfrst Max Emanuel, Schleissheim, 1976, II, no. 27, pl. IV). The view of Turin from the River Po is of paticular interest. The grid planning imposed by Duke Emanuele Filiberto emerges clearly and the Palazzo Madama is prominent, although this did not receive the celebrated Juvarra facade until the early 1720s. It appears here probably as an emblematic centre of power during the regency. The mistily painted structure opposite the Palazzo Madama is on the approximate site of Turin Cathedral and while Guarini's dome of the capella della Santissima Sindone was not completed until 1682, Mignard may have concocted a structure comparable in shape, if not proportion, to the Guarini steeple.