Mosnier first trained as a miniature painter at the Académie de St Luc, Paris. In 1776 he was appointed Peintre de la Reine to Queen Marie-Antoinette. He was approved by the Académie Royale in 1786 and received as a full member in 1788, presenting two portraits of Academicians, the sculptor Charles-Antoine Bridan (Paris, Ecole des Beaux-Arts) and the painter Louis Lagrenée (Versailles). He exhibited a Self-portrait (Saint Petersburg, Hermitage) at the Salon of 1786. After the outbreak of the French Revolution, Mosnier fled to London in 1790 (presumably after painting the present picture, which is not of an English sitter) where he had considerable success, exhibiting at the Royal Academy from 1791 to 1796. In 1802 he moved to Saint Petersburg where he became court painter to Tsar Alexander I, and where he died in 1808.
A version of the present work, was sold, Sotheby's, Monaco, 25 June 1984, lot 3387.