The sitter was tutor to the grandchildren of King Louis XIV and, from 1695 onwards, Archbishop of Cambrai. However, he fell out of favour due to a novel in which, in a cryptical way, he criticised the king. He was also exposed to the hostility of the Archbishop of Meaux. In 1699 he was banished from the court. Presumably this portrait is identical to one known to have been commissioned from Vivien by the Elector Joseph Clemens of Cologne, with whom Fénelon was friends and who was the younger brother of Elector Max Emanuel of Bavaria.