One of the finest metalworkers of Northern Europe, Caspar Gras was born near Würzburg and initially trained with his father as a goldsmith. However, upon becoming a pupil of Hubert Gerhard, one of the principal exponents of Giambologna's style in the north, Gras followed him to Innsbruck, Austria, where Gras held a variety of positions at court and received most of the court's commissions.
This group is similar to a series of equestrian statuettes by Gras, presumed to all represent the Hapsburgs, five of which are in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, including Ferdinand III in his youth (inv. no. 6020), Ferdinand III at a later age (inv. no. 5989), Leopold I in his youth (inv. no. 6000), a figure yet to be identified (inv. no. 6025) and the only figure with a black patina believed to be either Archduke Ferdinand Carl or Siegmund Franz (inv. no. 5995). Another group, believed to be representing Ferdinand Carl, belongs to the Victoria and Albert Museum (inv. no. A 16-1960). There is only one known gilt equestrian statuette, which is a part of the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, and can be traced back in the royal inventories back to 1737. Other known models are a further equestrian group in the likeness of the Duc de Vendôme, as noted by H. Olsen (1980), sold in Paris, 25 February 1955 (Hôtel Drouot, lot 90), and two similar riders on identical horses were offered for sale by the Galleria Sangiorgi in the early 2000's.
However, the present group differs in several respects. In the previously described groups the horses are with their forelegs in the air, while this version appears in full gallop, and the position and shape of the tail more closely resembles that of Nessus's in Giambologna's group Nessus and Deianira (as indicated by Leithe-Jasper in Renaissance Master Bronzes and which is in the collection of John Lewis, London, as discussed in Giambologa 1978/79, no. 67b). Additionally this version wears the Order of the Golden Fleece on his collar over his armor, which the other known groups do not, save for one group in the Kunsthistorisches Museum where the emblem is attached to the riband. Leithe-Jasper makes a comparison of the rider in the present version with a figure of a horseman in the Düsseldorf Kunstmuseum (inv. no. 174 P/B 14) and two others, which most likely represent Philip IV of Spain and the Emperor Ferdinand III (offered for sale circa 1900 by the Galleria Sangiorgi, Rome, respectively). Yet in these models the horse is pacing as opposed to curveting, the tail hangs down straight, and the mane falls to the right instead of the left and in thin strands.