Marie Antoinette (1755-1793) married Louis XVI in 1770 and became Queen of France at his accession to the throne in 1774. Her full-length, signed and dated portrait by Gautier-Dagoty was probably painted to mark that occasion. Gautier-Dagoty's younger brother Louis reproduced the painting in a mezzotint that was so widely ridiculed for its clumsiness that the painter probably turned to Janinet for a more skilful reproduction.
Janinet (1752-1814) had worked with Bonnet in his late teens, and quickly acquired the latter's mastery of crayon manner and pastel manner printmaking. They later collaborated on Bonnet's ambitious programme of publishing colour prints. This portrait of Marie Antoinette is printed in yellow, blue, red, and black inks from four plates and cut to an oval. The decorative frame is printed on a separate sheet of paper in blue, orange and gold inks from three plates, and the portrait is pasted in the centre.
The doll-like face of the nineteen year-old queen has been reduced in size to allow the inclusion of her elaborate dress and fantastic coiffure. The portrait is further overwhelmed by the richly decorated frame, with its gilded foliage and blue marbling.
Impressions of this print are rare, either because its illegal use of gold in the frame prompted the authorities to forbid production, or possibly because it was expensive and did not find favour with the public.