Isaac Oliver was born in Rouen, the son of a Huguenot goldsmith who settled in London in 1568. He studied with Nicholas Hilliard, and is also said to have been taught by Federico Zuccaro during the latter's visit to England. He visited Venice in the mid-1590s and in 1604 he became painter to Queen Anne of Denmark, wife of King James I.
The fine pen handling of this drawing is close to that on signed sheets of The Adoration of the Magi and The Entombment in the British Museum (E. Croft-Murray and P. Hulton, Catalogue of British Drawings, XVI & XVII Centuries, London, 1960, nos. 6 and 11, pls. 14 and 16) or Moses striking the Rocks and Nymphs and Satyrs at Windsor Castle (A.P. Oppé, English Drawings in the Collection of his Majesty the King at Windsor Castle, London, 1950, nos. 459-60, pls. 73 and 75). Drawings of this type are usually executed after Oliver's return from Italy.