The French statesman Charles-François Lebrun (1739-1824) began his political career as a deputy for the Third Estate in the Estates-General of 1789 and took the Serment du Jeu de Paume. He was imprisoned during the Reign of Terror, but freed after the fall of Robespierre under the Consulate and subsequently became Third Consul, with Napoleon Bonaparte and Jean-Jacques-Regis de Cambacérès. He was put in charge of national finances, which led to his appointment as Arch-Treasurer and Prince of the First French Empire in 1804. Napoleon made him a Grand Aigle
[Great Eagle] of the Légion d'Honneur in 1805 and Duke of Piacenza in 1806-1807. After the fall of Napoleon, he was made a Peer of France by Louis XVIII.
A large full-length portrait of the Duke of Piacenza, painted by Robert Lefèvre in 1825, is preserved in the Musée Quesnel-Morinière, Coutances. The Duke of Piacenza is shown in the court dress of a Peer of France, wearing the Grand Aigle badge of the Legion d'Honneur. The present painting was probably executed in 1825, as a posthumous tribute to this important statesman.