Francisco Collantes is credited with some of the earliest 'pure' landscapes in Spanish painting and was described by Professor Alfonso Pérez Sánchez as 'undoubtedly the most important Spanish landscape painter of the seventeenth century' (see catalogue of the exhibiton, The Golden Age of Spanish Painting, London, Royal Academy, 1975, p. 61). He enjoyed considerable success during his own lifetime and his pictures appear in the inventories of many of the most important collections in 17th century Madrid. Preeminent amongst these were a now dispersed series of large-scale landscapes with biblical and mythological themes painted for the Buen Retiro Palace in around 1634/35.
The present picture is a notable and rare example of Collantes's secular landscape style, revealing his knowledge of contemporary landscape painting in Italy; of Elsheimer and Brill in Rome and the Neapolitan work of the likes of Micco Spadaro and Aniello Falcone. The foliage in the present picture seems particularly reminiscent of Elsheimer while the broad rocky landscape, with such a variety of planes and light and shade, is indicative of his own highly personal style. The picture is comparbale with a number of works in public collections, all of which are generally dated to the mid-1630s. These include the Moses and the Burning Bush (Louvre, Paris), Hagar and Ishmael (Providence, Rhode Island School of Design), Landscape with a Castle (Prado, Madrid), and the Landscape with a City (Real Academia di San Fernando, Madrid), which is signed and dated '1634'.