A painter and engraver, Barbault was born in 1718. He received a scholarship at the Académie des Beaux-Arts and studied under Jean Restout II in Paris. In 1747, he moved to Rome. His activity as an etcher was greatly inspired by the Imperialistic current in Rome, at the time.
The influence of Giovanni Battista Piranesi is particularly strong in Barbault's work. He became a pensionnaire at the Académie from 1749-1753 and in 1751, Barbault depicted the planned procession of the pensionnaires, the Masquerade of the Four Corners of the World.