As Blunt observed, a drawing he entitles An oriental shepherd among ruins at Windsor (his no. 4, fig. 2) is similar in general composition to this picture. The space between the architecture and the horseman is wider, but numerous correspondences in detail confirm the relationship. The Windsor drawing is placed by Blunt in his group of early watercolours, executed while the artist was strongly under the influence of Jan Roos and other northern artists before he left his native Genoa for Rome shortly before 1634.
Ann Percy considers this canvas, with the Noah entering the Ark in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence (her fig. 1), to be one of two pictures assignable to the artist's early period, but regards the Windsor drawing as being by a member of the studio, probably Castiglione's son, Francesco. She points out that a study of the heads of the three cows on the right is in the Palazzo Bianco, Genoa, no. 363 (see G. Delogu, Pittori minori liguri, lombardi, piemontesi del seicento e del settecento, Venice, 1931, pl. 60).
The turbaned horseman in the Windsor drawing was engraved by the Abbé de Saint-Non, Fragments, pl. 13, as Blunt noted.
William Cadogan, 1st Earl Cadogan (1675-1726), the earliest recorded owner of the picture, was a close associate of the Duke of Marlborough, serving at Blenheim, Ramilles, Oudenarde and Malplaquet. Promoted as a lieutenant-general in 1709, he was envoy successively to Hanover in 1706 and The Hague in 1707-10, and Lieutenant of the Tower of London in 1706-12: out of favour like Marlborough in the last years of Queen Anne's reign, he became Master of the Robes on the accession of King George I and was Ambassador to The Hague in 1714-20. His wife, Margaretta, was the daughter of William Munter, whose wife was a member of the armament-dealing Trip family of Amsterdam. Like Marlborough and his Imperial counterpart, Prince Eugen of Savoy, Cadogan was a determined collector of pictures. In his last years his finances were strained as a result of a law suit with the Duke's widow, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough; this probably precipitated the sale of his collection on 14-22 February 1726-7, which was a major event, attended by such collectors as Sir Paul Methuen.
James Stanley, 10th Earl of Derby (1664-1735/6) was a collector of considerable distinction. The pictures he acquired were intended not for a London house, but for Knowsley: the process by which the collection was built up is documented by correspondence with Derby's agents, by bills, by a catalogue of 1729 and a posthumous inventory (see Russell, op. cit., pp. 143-80).
Derby employed a number of agents, his kinsman, Edward Stanley, James Green, the painter Peter Casteels and, most productively, the Warrington-born painter, Hamlet Winstanley (1698-1756). Winstanley studied in London under the ageing Godfrey Kneller from 1718 and set out for Italy at the Earl's expense in 1723. His activities there are recorded in a number of letters and he reported to his patron on a number of pictures that were available. Among his purchases in Rome that arrived in England in 1724 was a picture of sheep by Castiglione. After Winstanley's return to London in 1725 he continued to act for Derby, often representing him in the London saleroom. His purchase of the Castiglione is documented in a receipt of 25 February 1726/7
'Sixty Nine pounds Six Shillings for a painting of Jacob's Journey into Egypt by Castiglione...(...bought at my Lord Cadogans sale)' (Russell, p.155)
Winstanley published a series of twenty prints after old masters at Knowsley in 1728-9.
Derby, like other collectors of the day, did not invariably secure masterpieces: but a brief survey of the pictures entered in the posthumous inventory shows how remarkable some of his pictures were. In the Picture Gallery there was a Claude landscape and the Rembrandt Belshazzar's Feast (now in the National Gallery, London), bought from or through Winstanley for £125: in Lady Betty Stanley's Dressing Room was Rubens' brilliant copy of Titian's Diana and Calisto: elsewhere were four Van de Velde seascapes bought from Casteels for a total of 300 guineas.