Gill had no formal art school training, and began his career as a monumental mason and letter-cutter. He produced his first sculptures in 1910, which he carved directly into the stone. Mankind was the central work in his very successful solo show at the Goupil Gallery in London in 1928. It was carved from a large piece of Hoptonwood stone which Gill had had in his possession for some time before deciding to turn it into a personification of womanhood. Considering that Gill is best known for his reliefs and his carvings were generally frontal, this sculpture is unusually three-dimensional.