Lord Ronald Gower, the youngest son of the powerful Duke of Sutherland, started his career as a politician, serving in the British Parliament from 1867-74. The artist subsequently became a self-taught ‘gentleman sculptor’ and an historical writer, eventually exhibiting works in the Paris Salons of 1880 and 1881, the Paris International Exhibition of 1878, and numerous competitions at the Royal Academy. In 1883, the city of Stratford-upon-Avon commissioned Lord Gower to create the Shakespeare Memorial. However, Lord Gower’s first public sculpture was Marie Antoinette (1876), completed eight years prior to the publication of his Marie Antoinette: An Historical Sketch. Both the sculpture and the book were part of the artist's re-examination of Marie Antoinette’s personification of Royal excess and frivolity. In Gower's composition, she is depicted as being led to the guillotine, with her hands bound, her hair hidden to elicit further humiliation and her expression dignified. The figure, cast in small editions, was often retailed by the prolific firm of Tiffany & Co. at their early 20th century outpost in New York's Union Square.