In an era when the art of courtly appearance was the major concern of the French aristocracy, Largillierre focused his talent on the art of portraiture and became one of the most popular artists of his time.
While at the court of England, in the studio of Sir Peter Lely, the official painter of Charles II, Largillierre worked on his first court portraits. Upon his return to Paris in 1679, he became First Painter to King Louis XIV, under the protection of Charles le Brun. He received numerous royal and aristocratic commissions such as the present portrait which shows Jacques-François de Chastenet, Marquis of Puysegur (1656-1743), who established his career in the king's regiment and became Lieutenant-Colonel under Louis XIV. Recognised for his organizational skills, he served in Flanders and Spain where he was sent by Louis XIV in 1704 to reorganise the army. Under the French Regency, he was a member of the War Council, then promoted to Maréchal de France
by Louis XV in 1734. In 1739, he was made knight of the King's Order (Orders of St. Michael and Holy Spirit). He was married in 1714 for a second time, this time to Jeanne-Henriette de Fourcy de Chessy, whose portrait by Largillierre was most likely paired with our painting (Sotheby's New York, 25 January 2008, lot 265, $121,000).
The silhouette emerges majestically towards the foreground, framed by classical columns. The abundant drapery of shimmering fabrics and the distinction and elegance of Monsieur de Puységur's gesture, are testament to Largillierre's technique and virtuosity.
His attire plays a vital role: Jean-Baptiste Oudry tells of the particular care that Largillierre, his master, took in portraying drapery and in his use of colour to obtain the most beautiful velvet and shimmering silks: "The portrait
, he declares, demands that all fabrics that we paint have a fresh aura
". The Master also recommended studying textiles on a life-size mannequin in order to better understand movement and how colours change in different light. Finally, the effect of the clothing's excess and display gives in Largillierre's portraits a symbol of vanity that one finds in his still lifes and which proves all his virtuosity as a painter.
"Portraitist, painter of history and still life, occasionally landscape artist, Nicolas de Largillierre is the most complete artist of his generation: skillful draftsman, generous in material and array of color, extravagant with a perfect elegance, he appears as one of the most representative artists of the "grand goût français" that marked the end of Louis XIV's reign"
. This painting was displayed in 1935 during the exhibition French Paintings and Sculpture of the XVIIIth Century
at the Metropolitan Museum, New York.
 et  D. Brême, Nicolas de Largillierre : Peintre du Grand Siècle et de la Régence, catalogue d'exposition, Paris, 2003-2004, page 34.
 L. Lacroix "Nicolas de Largillierre et le portrait / Nicolas de Largillierre and the Portrait." in Vie des arts 26104 (1981), pp. 34-93.