Alfred Stevens (1817-1875) was born at Blandford Forum in Dorset. With the assistance of the Rector of Blandford, Stevens, at the age of fifteen, was sent to Italy. There he spent nine years, and in 1841 was employed in Rome by Thorwaldsen until they both left in the following year. In 1845 he was appointed to teach architectural drawing in the Board of Trade's design school. He resigned his post two years later but had already exercised a considerable influence on the younger English artists. In 1850 he was appointed chief artist to a firm of bronze and metal workers in Sheffield, H.E.HOOLE & Co. and his designs secured the firm an award at the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Between 1857 and 1860 Stevens produced a number of designs for the Coalbrookdale Iron Co., one of these being the 'festoon' chimneypiece, showing a reclining nude flanked by ribbons, swags and scrolls.