Steinberg wrestled with the attribution of this drawing almost as soon as he acquired it. Notes on the back of the frame refer to Jacob de Backer, Govaert Flinck and Moses Ter Borch (an attribution suggested by Jim Goodfriend), as well as a reminder dated 1987 to ask Werner Sumowski, the renowned Rembrandt drawings expert for his opinion.
Peter Schatborn noted a similar, but not completely identical figure to the Steinberg drawing in Jan Steen's painting Landscape with skittle players (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Inv.-Nr. GG 6319). Drawings by Steen are extremely rare - indeed only two are known. One is a double-sided sheet with black chalk studies of two other figures in the Vienna picture (Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet), the other is a compositional study for The trial of the young Moses (Oxford, Ashmolean Museum).
We are grateful to Peter Schatborn for suggesting the attribution based on photographs and for his assistance cataloguing this lot.