This drawing was engraved by Nanteuil in three different states, Ch. Petitjean & Ch. Wickert, Catalogue de l'oeuvre gravé de Robert Nanteuil, Paris, 1925, no. 199. The second state was used as a frontispiece for André Duchesne's Histoire des Papes et souverains chefs de l'Eglise, published in 1653. This state reproduces the first with smaller margins, probably to fit the size of the book.
The source for Nanteuil's portrait is Jean Morin's print after Philippe de Champaigne, B. Dorival, Philippe de Champaigne 1602-1674, Paris, 1976, no. 387. Morin's etching is inscribed 'Ph. Champaigne pinx' and is datable to after 1644, the year Retz was named coadjutor of the Cathedral of Paris. Philippe de Champaigne's portrait was engraved in the same direction again by Michel Lasne in 1646, by Gilles Rousselet and by Grégoire Huret, and in reverse by Pieter de Jode and Humbelot. Nanteuil's print also reverses Morin's prototype.
In his earlier period Nanteuil often prepared his prints with small and refined drawings on vellum, similarly to the present portrait. Similar examples are in the Louvre, L. Duclaux, Inventaire général des dessins, ecole franaise, XII, Nadar-Ozanne, Paris, 1975, no. 10-11.
Jean-Franois Paul de Gondy (1613-1679) was destined from an early age for a career in the church and at thirty, he became coadjutor with his uncle at the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris. In the late 1640s he became one of the leaders of the Fronde against Cardinal Mazarin. Tallemant des Réaux in an Historiette described him as 'un petit homme noir qui ne voit que de fort près, mal fait, laid et maladroit de ses mains à toute chose... La soutane lui venoit mieux que l'espée, sinon pour son humeur, au moins pour son corps, tel que je l'ay représenté. Il n'avoit pas pourtant la mine d'un niais; il y avait quelque chose de fier dans son visage..il est enclin à l'amour, il a la galanterie en teste, et veut faire du bruit; mais sa passion dominante c'est l'ambition'. After the Fronde, Retz became Archbishop of Paris, although because King Louis XIV had never forgiven his rebellious behaviour he was never allowed to take up his duties. He left Paris in 1662 and lived in exile until 1675, and wrote his memoirs.