Of French Hugenot origin, Mercier was born and trained in Berlin before moving to London in around 1716. He established himself as a painter of conversation pieces and portraits at the Hanoverian court and c.1737-39 turned to executing 'fancy pictures', mainly of single figures which owe something to Chardin. He settled at York, 1739-51 where he painted portraits of the Yorkshire gentry as well as selling fancy pictures. As an engraver (and perhaps forger) of Watteau he was instrumental in introducing French taste into English art.
The present work is listed by Ingamells and Raines (op. cit., 1978, no.221, p.52) as one of a set of three paintings by Mercier that formerly belonged to the Dukes of Leeds at Hornby Castle, Yorkshire. The set, which they date to 1740, comprised of the Goddess of Love, the Goddess of Painting, and the Goddess of Poetry. The Goddess of Painting was offered as the preceding lot to the present work at Parke-Bernet, New York, 25-26 January 1963, lot 271.