Sauvage revelled in the art of illusion, and was unsurpassed at imitating in paint the bas-relief sculptures of the great masters of the French School, especially works by Duquesnoy, Clodion, Pigalle and Sarrazin. Sauvage trained in his native Belgium before settling in Paris in 1774, and was received into the Académies of Toulouse and Lille, the Académie de Saint-Luc in Paris, and finally the Académie Royale in 1783; his reception piece is in the Château de Fontainebleau. Sauvage became painter to the Prince de Condé, and subsequently received numerous commissions to decorate the royal residences at Versailles, Fontainebleau and Compiègne with overdoors of faux marble, bronze, cameo and terracotta. Throughout his life he was tireless in his efforts to obtain for trompe-l'oeil painting recognition as an official art.
Children's games, often in mythological guise, provided Sauvage with his favorite themes, and he exhibited a great many painted reliefs depicting them at the Salon. Sauvage's Triumph of Bacchus, although it does not derive from a known sculpture, is reminiscent of carved reliefs by a fellow Walloon, François Duquesnoy (1597-1643), and in particular the sculptor's Bacchanale of Children and Victory of Divine Love in the Galleria Doria-Pamphili, Rome. It displays the skill and ingenuity with which Sauvage could reproduce the green-gray patina, reflections and natural variations of bronze. Another composition by Sauvage of children playing with dionysian attributes, in a private collection (on long-term loan to the University Art Museum, Alburquerque), may have been made as its pendant (see J.P. Marandel, French Oil Sketches from an English Collection, Houston, 1973, no. 75). Two unsigned studio copies of the present painting are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Inv. nos. 07.225.272 and 07.225.314a); both copies came from the collection of J. Pierpont Morgan, and are larger than the original.