After Agostino's fresco in the vault of the Sala d'Amore in the Palazzo del Giardino, Parma, commissioned by Ranunccio I Farnese, Duke of Parma, to celebrate his marriage to Margherita Aldobrandini in 1600, N. Mosetti, 'Nel Palazzo del Giardino e nel Casino di Sua Altezza Serenissima: Sacro e profano a confronto', in La pittura in Emilia e in Romagna, il Seicento, Milan, 1994, II, p. 80, illustrated. Agostino had been in Parma since 1599, but only the central section and three of the surrounding sections, including The Meeting of Peleus and Thetis, were finished at his death in March 1602.
Rubens seems to have been less directly influenced by Agostino than by his younger brother Annibale, and does not appear to have visited him in Parma. Michael Jaffé suggests that Rubens would have studied Agostino's prints after Veronese and Tintoretto while still in Antwerp, but the only direct evidence is a copy, made in Antwerp, of Agostino's engraving of Lot and his Daughters now in the Kobberstiksamling, Copenhagen, M. Jaffé, Rubens and Italy, Oxford, 1977, pp. 54-5, pl. 63. Professor Jaffé was not aware of the relationship with Agostino when he published the present drawing in 1995.
Rubens's visit to Parma is recorded by a number of drawings, including his dramatic copy, now in the Louvre, after an apostle from Correggio's Assumption in the dome of the Cathedral, M. Jaffé, op. cit., 1977, col. pl. II. The present drawing does not appear to date from this visit, but seems instead to be a copy by an unknown artist richly reworked by Rubens at a later date. Both before and after his return to Antwerp in 1608 Rubens seems to have instructed pupils and contemporaries to copy pictures in Italy and France that he could then draw on, sometimes literally, for his own compositions. In this way he could keep in touch with artistic developments. This is expressly stated by Padre Resta in a note on a drawing in his collection by Abraham van Diepenbeeck after Niccolò dell'Abate or Francesco Primaticcio, which entered his collection indirectly from Rubens' studio via the mysterious 'Monsù Habe' (cf. lot 12). On the mount of the drawing, now in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan, Resta comments that 'Di questo Abramo [van Diepenbeeck] se ne servì RUBENS per la mandar per il mondo à copiare per se le più belle opere per suo diletto.' (quoted in J. Wood, 'Padre Resta's Flemish Drawings. Van Diepenbeeck, Van Thulden, Rubens and the School of Fontainebleau', Master Drawings, XXVIII (1990), p. 42). The most notable product of this course of this practice was the series of drawings by Abraham van Diepenbeeck and Theodoor van Thulden after Primaticcio's works in France scattered through a number of collections, which are discussed in the wider context of Rubens's use of his pupils as copyists by Jeremy Wood, op. cit., pp. 3-53.
Drawings by unknown associates, reworked by Rubens, after Polidoro's frieze for the Palazzo Milesi are in the British Museum (M. Jaffé, op. cit., 1997, pl. 130), formerly in the collection of the Royal Institution of Cornwall (sold at Christie's, London, 30 November 1965, lot 193), and a third sold at Sotheby's, Amsterdam, 11 November 1997, lot 61.
A copy after the present drawing was sold at Christie's, Amsterdam, 10 November 1999, lot 311.