Antoine Pesne was born in Paris in 1683, son of a painter who gave him his first lessons in art. He later studied at the Academy and with his uncle, Charles de la Fosse. After an extensive tour of Italy, Pesne came to Berlin in 1711 where he would became a court painter of the Prussian king, staying for over 46 years as a highly respected and well-paid figure at court. He painted portraits of nearly everyone in the family. He was also the director of the Berlin Academy. He was a portraitist, and also executed monumental historical and religious subjects. In 1720, he was made a member of the Paris Academy of Arts. He died in 1757.
Many grand Pesne portraits were stolen by the Red Army after World War Two and carted off to Russia where they were destroyed or scattered. The portrait above of Friedrich the Great now resides in Russia. Only an inconspicuous, small common gravestone remains today of Pesne and the famous royal building master Knobelsdorff.