The sitter, from Media, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, was often resident in Baltimore and Philadelphia. Unlike Rinehart's bust of Mrs. Walters, which shows the sitter in modern dress, Eliza Farnum is shown in a classicising chemise with drapery across her chest.
Rinehart was a Maryland native who ran a successful sculpture studio in Rome. William T. Walters may have sponsored Rinehart's first trip to Italy in 1855, and he remained a close friend and patron throughout the rest of the artist's life. Wealthy Americans visiting Rome would make tours of sculptors' studios, view their work, and place commissions. This bust was modeled from life during just such a visit, perhaps during Mrs. Farnum's (née Leiper Smith) honeymoon; she was married in 1865.