Falconet was one of the foremost sculptors of the mid-eighteenth century. Among his patrons was the Marquise de Pompadour, who appointed him director of sculpture at the Sèvres porcelain factory. From 1766-1778 he worked in St. Petersburg for Catherine the Great, who commissioned him to execute the two-times life-sized bronze equestrian statue of Peter the Great.
The Seated Bather is representative of the work for which Falconet was best known: small-scale, graceful pieces that encourage the viewer to walk around and look from all sides. A signed and dated marble of the same composition is documented, but its whereabouts are unknown. This is the first 18th-century French sculpture of any prominence to enter the collection, as well as the first plaster.