Miss Mortimer was the sister of the artist John Hamilton Mortimer, a close friend of Peters' who had studied with him in Hudson's studio. The daughter of Zeus and the Greek goddess of youth, Hebe
was a popular subject in art in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, particularly as a female personification in portraiture, and even some of the most aristocratic of models allowed for a degree of nudity, such as the exposing of a single breast. Here Miss Mortimer has allowed herself to be portrayed with both breasts exposed, feeding her father Zeus in the guise of an eagle - a representation of eternal youth. In classical mythology the eagle, like the phoenix, was believed to have the ability to renew itself to a youthful state.
The prime version of this portrait, on canvas, was sold in these rooms, 24 November 1999, lot 56 (Private Collection). That painting, which has slight variations in the composition, was engraved by John Raphael Smith and published in June 1779. The print was a huge commercial success and as a result this image became one of the artist's most celebrated compositions. Another version, catalogued as being 35 x 27 1/2 in. was sold at Christie's, 15 April 1912, for £30.9s to Turner, though no mention was given of the medium.