This was painted after Roberts visited Versailles and the hamlet that Marie Antoinette had built by the Grand Trianon Lake, between 1783 and 1785. Inspired by the theories of the 'state of nature' expounded by the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the French Queen created a fantasy village which included a real dairy and a barn that doubled as a ballroom. The main building is the Queen's House. Marie-Antoinette is depicted in her favourite guise, as a shepherdess. Roberts made drawings and photographs on site and once back in her studio created her own impression of the Queen in these extraordinary surroundings.