Born in Rheims in 1623, Robert Nanteuil was instructed in art by Nicholas Regnesson, Boke and Philippe de Champagne. Most of his early works were dedicated to portrait drawing and it was this work that drew him to engraving. Nanteuil’s first engraved portraits were influenced by earlier portraits of Claude Mellan.
Nanteuil was appointed Royal engraver to Louis XIV in 1659 and in this capacity, he persuaded the King to pass the edict of St. Jean-de-Luz, which elevated engraving to an art equal to that of painting. Nanteuil completed roughly 234 portrait engravings, most of which are considered masterpieces. Of these, about ten are held as the standard for portrait art. Nanteuil was also one of the most accomplished pastelists of the 1600s.