In 1821, following a traditional training first with his father and then at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich, Rugendas joined the Russian diplomat Baron de Langsdorff as a draughtsman on the latter's expedition to Brazil. He returned to Germany in 1825 with a large number of drawings of South American life and scenery suffused with the spirit of the Romanticism then in vogue. Many of these were published as a popular series of lithographs.
The present drawing dates from his second journey to South America. On the encouragement of the scientist Alexander von Humboldt, Rugendas crossed the Atlantic again in 1831, staying until 1846. During this time he lived principally in Chile and Mexico, although he travelled extensively across the continent. He returned to Brazil in 1845 and 1846 when he painted a series of portraits of Peter II and members of the Brazilian Imperial family.