French-born Antoine Pesne initially trained as an artist with his father, the painter Thomas Pesne, and his great-uncle, Charles de la Fosse, before studying at the Académie in Paris. Sometime after 1703 he left for Italy, visiting Rome and Naples before settling in Venice. In 1707 his portrait of the Prussian ambassador to Venice attracted the attention of Frederick I of Prussia, who invited the painter to Berlin. Pesne arrived in 1711 and was soon made court painter, quickly establishing a great reputation for his portraits of the leading aristocracy. For Frederick II he painted large-scale mythological and allegorical murals in several royal palaces. He also continued to paint portraits, some of which achieve an almost impressionist effect through their colouring and brushwork.