Little has been recorded of the life of John William Godward. Inspired by the painter Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema, Godward imitated his Neoclassical style. Both were counted among the members of the "Marble School," known for its depictions of subjects drawn from ancient Greek and Roman life placed in elaborate settings, with especially careful and realistic rendering of details like marble and flowers.
Godward regularly exhibited his paintings at the prestigious Royal Academy in London, where they were initially greatly admired by the public. By the time he was in his fifties, however, the Marble School's approach had fallen out of favor. Godward nonetheless continued to paint in this manner until his death at age sixty-one.