Primarily remembered as Rembrandt's first teacher and as a master painter of fantastical depictions of the underworld, van Swanenburgh is known to have travelled to Italy before returning to Leiden in 1621. His scenes from Hell perhaps show the influence of Jan Brueghel the Elder who was composing similar visionary paintings in Flanders.
The present lot can be compared to a similar composition by van Swanenburgh in the Stedelijk Museum of Lakenhal, Leiden (see R. Ekkart, Isaac Claesz. van Swanenburgh, 1537-1614, Zwolle, 1998, p. 127, pl. 119).