In 1758 Le Prince went to Russia - first to St. Petersburg - where his letters of recommendation opened doors in high places, and he rapidly became one of the most solicited artists there. He undertook a commission for the Imperial Winter Palace, and then travelled throughout the Empire, building up sketches and records of costumes, customs and landscapes of the different provinces. Today, these constitute a valuable source of information of this period of Russian history.
When Le Prince returned to Paris in 1763, he continued to use his Russian material as inspiration for new work, popularizing scenes of daily life in Russia. Our drawing is a rare document showing the life of the calmouks, a hardy nomadic hunting tribe living on the steppes, whose skill at archery was legendary.
Another, smaller drawing of a Calmouk warrior is in the Yale University Art Gallery.