J.B.A. George von Hamilton was a younger member of a family of artists descending from the Scottish still-life painter, James Hamilton (c. 1640-1720). Although Scottish by birth James Hamilton spent most of his career in Brussels and his sons, Philipp Ferdinand, Karl Wilhelm and Johann Georg, who were also painters, worked mainly in the courts of Central Europe. In addition to still lifes they also painted wild animals and hunting scenes, no doubt in response to the demands of their courtly patrons.
The lion, tiger, tigress and cubs of the present pictures derive from Rubens' larger compositions The Four Quarters of the World (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), and Neptune and Amphrite (formerly in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum, Berlin, destroyed in World War II; the surviving preparatory sketch in the collection of Gaston Dulière, Brussels): see M. Jaffé, Rubens Catalogo Completo, Milan, 1989, nos. 300-2, illustrated pp. 205-6. The present pair is probably a studio repetition of another pair signed and dated 'J.B.A. George de Hamilton Pinx 1753', sold at Sotheby's, London, 6 December 1989, lots 7 and 8.