John Bell (1812-1895) was born in Suffolk and trained at the Royal Academy Schools, where he later exhibited from 1832 to 1877. Bell's early work was received with great acclaim, and he consequently received several important commissions. With his Octoroon, Bell returned to the popular theme of the enslaved maiden, which he had first treated with his Andromeda, exhibited at the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851. Probably inspired by the play of the same name by Dion Boucicault which opened at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1859, Octoroon was exhibited in marble at the Royal Academy ten years later. The work was subsequently produced in Parian china and cast in bronze, as here, by the Coalbrookdale Company.