Having arrived in Paris from his home town Rouen in 1661, Jouvenet first became a pupil of Le Brun's, and was drafted by him to work on commissions from the court, especially painting at Versailles. In addition, he worked for the royal tapestry manufactory, and in 1794 was independently commissioned by the king to decorate the Palace of Justice in Rennes.
After years of Le Brun's pre-eminence, Jouvenet came to be one of the four artists who defined French painting at the turn from the seventeenth to the eighteenth century. Compared to La Fosse, Bouilogne and Coypel, Jouvenet was a highly idiosyncratic member of the group. Without having been to Italy himself, in his Baroque, often monumentalising compositions he combined ideas from Roman-Bolognese painters with his experience of Le Brun's concept of art. He developed a stringent, even austere form of history painting distinguished by a generous palette and betraying a knowledge of the works of Rubens.
His treatment of inspiration from various styles is also seen in his handling of drawing. As early as 1745, Dezallier distinguished two essential groupings of them: academic or detail studies in crayon and red chalk, reflecting the draughtsmanly thinking of Le Brun, and composition designs in pen and brush, expressive of his own strong temperament.