The present drawing can be connected with sheets attributed to Coecke van Aelst shortly after his entry into the Guild of Saint Luke at Antwerp in 1527. This early period is not documented, but Karel van Mander, in his Schilderboek, records that van Aelst travelled to Italy and later studied under Bernard van Orley in Brussels. The influence of van Orley is evident in this sheet, but the more mannered composition and the elegance of the figures point towards the younger artist.
Both van Aelst and van Orley designed tapestries, and it was probably for this purpose that the present drawing was intended. A drawing by van Aelst for a tapestry of The Sacrifice at Lystra, one of a series of nine illustrating the life of Saint Paul, was sold at Sotheby's New York, 27 January 1999, lot 16.
Lars Hendrikman, in a communication dated 29 November 2000, compares this sheet to a drawing illustrated in G. Marlier, La Renaissance Flamande - Pierre Coecke d'Alost, Brussels, 1966, pl. 247. We are grateful to Dr. Hendrikman for his help in preparing this note.