After studying drawing in St Quentin, his birthplace, he went to Paris and worked under three painters. His admiration for Rosalba Carriera, who visited there in 1720, led La Tour to devote his efforts solely to pastels. In 1746 he became a full member of the Académie Royale, and in 1750 was named painter to the king.
His considerable success led to commissions from the royal family, court, wealthy bourgeoisie and those in literary, artistic, and theatric circles. His oeuvre was extensive: over 1200 works. Toward the end of his life La Tour began to put his considerable fortune to philanthropic use. He endowed three student prizes, and gave money to his home town for relief of indigent craftsmen and poor women in childbirth. In 1752 he established an École Royale de Dessin, also in St. Quentin, and later donated a major part of his oeuvre to the school.
The young lady may also be a member of the royal family. She, too, is both formally dressed and posed.
La Tour began with a series of preparatory studies, often as many as four or five for a single portrait. He was superbly skilled in reproducing textures – silks, velvets, brocades, lace, etc., and of course the medium of pastel lends itself naturally to reproducing the velvety surface of skin.
Both of these works were given to the Museum as gifts in memoriam.