Reznicek dates the present lot after 1600, comparing it stylistically to a drawing of Venus and Adonis formerly in the Verhuell Collection, Arnhem (E.K.J. Reznicek, Hendrick Goltzius Zeichnungen, Utrecht, 1961, no.K108), noting that the present drawing may be a preliminary sketch for a picture or tapestry. He also observes that Goltzius here follows Karel van Mander's instructions from his Leerdicht of 1606, V, Fol. 16: 'Van t'ordineren met verscheyden hoopkens, en ondertussche wat grondts te laten.' (Of the ordaining of several groups, meanwhile leaving some space).
Goltzius already treated the same subject in his drawing now in the Museum Pomorskie, Gdansk (Reznicek, op.cit., 1961, no. K100a, illustrated in the Addendum), which was engraved in 1590 (B.7). The nymph undressing in the foreground of the present lot is, in reverse, comparable to a nymph in the Gdansk drawing, which reappears in reverse in the engraving. Two further prints after Goltzius illustrate other compositions of the same subject (E.J. Sluyter, 'Herscheppingen' in prenten van Hendrick Goltzius en zijn kring (II), Delineavit en Sculpsit, 5, 1991, pp. 8-19, nos. 15 and 17). Saenredam's engraving (B.15, Holl.7) shows Diana in a comparable pose as in the present lot. As Sluyter points out Goltzius may well have known Cornelis Cort's print of the same subject after Titian (op.cit., pl. 14). The subject, which would remain very popular in Dutch painting troughout the 17th Century, supplied a very good opportunity to depict female nudes in many varieties, meanwhile warning for the consequences of not abiding chastity