This painting, formerly regarded as a work by Theodor van Thulden, is one of a group of contemporary versions, including that in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, of a composition closely related to Rubens' Daniel in the Lions' Den in the National Gallery, Washington. That group differ from the Washington composition in various ways: most noticeably the position of Daniel who, instead of lifting up his clasped hands in prayer, rests on on the rock and raises the other, but also in the left background, which depicts an additional pair of lions, and in the arrangement of the skull and noes in the foreground.
No work of this composition is known by Rubens, but the number of versions known suggest that their authors were inspired by an unknown prototype of the master's. That prototype may be the picture recorded in the 1632 inventory of the Milanese Senator Luigi Malzi that is supposed to have been signed 'P. Paulus R.' between Daniel's legs, and, lower left, 'Brueghel fecit Antwerpen Anno 1617 (see G. Melzi d'Eril, 'Il capolavoro di una collezione milanese del secolo XVII', Aevum, CLVI, 1972, pp. 123-6, fig. 1).