Born in County Durham in 1767, and a student at the Royal Academy Schools from 1801 onwards, Humphrey Hopper achieved fame in 1803 at the mature age of 36 when he was awarded a gold medal for his group of the Death of Meleager. He henceforth worked extensively on the design, and creation, of monuments, such as his unfairly maligned monument to General Hay in St. Paul's Cathedral (1814, Gunnis, loc. cit.). In his latter years, however, he excelled in the production of portrait busts and small funerary monuments, many of which were embellished with elegant mourning vestals modelled in a highly classical style.
Between 1807 and 1813 Hopper exhibited a number of mythological figures in plaster designed to hold lamps at the Royal Academy that were from the same source as his mourning vestal figures. Although numerous copies after his original models exist, a number of signed and dated plaster examples also survive, including the set of four figures sold in the sale at Hackwood Park (Christie's, 20-22 April 1998, lot 159, £45,500 including premium), a further pair sold at Ven House (Christie's, 21-22 June 1999, lot 308, £25,300 including premium) as well as the pair offered here. In each instance Hopper displays the same elegant rendition of the female form and a highly accomplished treatment of the classically modelled drapery.