We are grateful to Professor Caterina Volpi for proposing the attribution after inspection of the original. She links the painting to the only documented works by Augusto Rosa, the lunettes frescoed in the cloister of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte in Rome, of landscapes with hermits. These frescoes, painted in a style that blends the lessons of Augusto's father, Salvator, with the manner of Gaspar Dughet, are signed with a very similar monogram to the present painting. No other works by Augusto Rosa have been identified, and together with the lunettes, this landscape can become a starting point for future research on the painter. Professor Volpi tentatively suggests that Salvator may have contributed to the mountains on the left.
Little is known of Augusto Rosa, who was the second son of Salvator Rosa and Lucrezia Paolina: the first, Rosalvo, died prematurely in 1656. Augusto lived in Rome with his father and like him he became a painter. He was also a picture dealer.
According to a letter of 14 September 1899 from Mrs. Hugh Henry Hibbert to Mrs. Close-Brooks, this picture is likely to have been acquired with Birtles Hall, Cheshire, by Robert Hibbert (1750-1835) in 1791; it passed by descent to his grandson, Hugh Henry Hibbert (1828-1895). Apart from the pictures already at Birtles Hall by 1791, some pictures owned by Robert Hibbert had been purchased for him by his brother, the collector George Hibbert of Munden, while others where inherited or acquired at various times. By 1899 Birtles Hall and its contents had been sold to the Close-Brooks family, one of whose members had already been a collector of Neapolitan Old Masters; this was James Close, a calico merchant who did business in Sicily from 1819 and lived in Naples from 1840 until 1865. His business activities there involved supplying the city with new sewers and setting up a steam ferry service linking Naples with the islands in the bay, see J. Potter, ed., The Merchant of Naples, James Close (1799-1865) and his Family, Oxford, 2008. The Neapolitan pictures at Birtles included, besides this canvas, two scenes from Tasso by Paolo de Matteis, and pictures of the Martyrdoms of Saint Bartholomew and Peter attributed to Preti.