Reliefs such as this one, which take as their subject a sacrifice to a god or goddess, are derived from antique sources. They were revived in the neo-classical period, and Michael Rysbrack, in particular, is known to have executed several such reliefs for his more important English patrons. Probably as early as the late 1720s, he carved a Sacrifice to Diana for the Stone Hall at Houghton (Webb, op. cit., p. 127), and in 1755, he carved marble reliefs of a Sacrifice to Apollo and a Sacrifice to Diana for the Duke of Bedford's country seat, Woburn Abbey.
The present relief shows numerous strong similarities to the examples mentioned above, both in stylistic and compositional terms. However, the more rigid handling of motifs such as the swags on the altar and the compressed composition led Kate Eustace (private correspondance 18 February 2002) to suggest that the present relief may be the work of Rysbrack's assistant, Alexander van der Hagen. She notes that in the Langford sale catalogue of 14 February 1767, lots 43 and 44 are given to van der Hagen and described as:
43 A Basso Relievo of Venus and Cupid, after Mr. Rysbrack
44 Ditto of a Sacrifice to Hercules, after ditto