William Randolph Barbee studied and practiced law, but his lifelong dream was to become a sculptor. By the 1850s, he had saved enough money to move to Italy and pursue his calling. Barbee worked in the neoclassical style, an approach inspired by the Greek and Roman works of antiquity. He enjoyed a successful debut in the United States when he returned from Italy in the late 1850s, receiving favorable reviews and attention for two sculptures, Coquette and Fisher Girl. Thereafter, Barbee worked in a studio in the basement of the U.S. Capitol building. Barbee’s career suffered when the threat of civil war prompted government officials to withdraw plans for two important commissions. The war eventually forced Barbee to abandon his studio and tools and return to his home near Luray, Virginia.