Jean-Baptiste II Lemoyne was a renowned portrait painter and protégé of Louis XV, of whom he made several monumental effigies, all of which have since been destroyed. He excelled in giving his works a vital spark, as in this bust depicting Ulrich Frédéric Waldemar, Comte de Lowendal (1700-1755).
Waldemar was born in Hamburg in 1700 and was a descendant, through his father's family, of King Frederick III of Denmark. After having fought for various monarchs, he was called to France by Maurice de Saxe in 1743 and appointed lieutenant general. He made a name for himself at the Battle of Fontenoy in 1745, then at Bergen op Zoom in 1747, before being appointed marshal in 1749. There is no trace of the military man in this unconventional portrayal, where he is stripped of all insignia. The sculpture is not particularly flattering – Waldemar is depicted with fleshy features – but his face, which is turned to look at something we cannot see, is filled with nobleness and suggests a keen, spiritual mind. It is likely that the bust was made from life. It was doubtless a preparatory study for the terracotta piece held at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Angers, where the marshal is depicted dressed in his armour.