Louise Françoise de Bourbon was born illegitimately in June 1673 at Tournay, France, the daughter of Louis XIV and Françoise Athénaïs de Rochechouart, Madame de Montespan. In1685, eleven year old Louise was married to sixteen year old Louis de Bourbon, Duc de Bourbon, a distant cousin. She had several children, with one, the Duc de Maine, becoming a favorite of Louis XIV.
Swathed with richly decorated robes and garlands of flowers she is depicted in this portrait as a young woman of confidence and grace. She adopts the fashion of the day by wearing her hair high and with cruches, that is, “certain smaller Curles, placed on the Forehead” (John Evelyn, The Fop-Dictionary, 1690). Indeed, the whole head was structured around the wire “commode” which held the hair high enough to later incorporate layers of silks and other fabric adornments. In this instance Louise’s hair is decorated with floral arrangements at the sides and silk tassles crowning the top at the front.
Pierre Gobert (1662-1744) was born in Fontainebleau, the son of the sculptor Jean Gobert and during the reign of Louis XIV became the preferred painter of the great ladies of the court, as evidenced by the large collection of portraits that he executed during that time. His works inspired other artists to create portraits in a style echoing his own – the present portrait being a good example of this – there being a tremendous demand for images of royalty.