The present lot is one of the earliest surviving paintings by La Hyre. Like the Hercules and Omphale in the Kurpfälzisches Museum, Heidelberg (see P. Rosenberg and J. Thuillier in the catalogue of the exhibition, Laurent de La Hyre, Grenoble-Rennes-Bordeaux, 1989, no. 31), the Tile in a private collection, Paris (ibid., no. 51), and the recently rediscovered Death of Adonis that was acquired by the Louvre in 1994 (see S. Loire, in Musée du Louvre: Nouvelles Acquisitions du Département des Peintures 1991-1995, Paris, 1999, pp. 124-6), the present lot dates from the mid-1620s. It is painted in a loose Mannerist style that derives from the second School of Fontainebleau and was a legacy of La Hyre's teacher, the painter and draftsman Georges Lallemant. Although no other painting by La Hyre of children frolicking in a landscape is known today, the subject appears in several of his earliest signed etchings (see Rosenberg and Thuillier, op. cit., nos. 21-2 and 24-6).
The present work may be the painting of children that appeared in the 1638 inventory made after the death of the collector Philippe Humbelot (no. 12: "Item un tableau ou sont représentés des petits enffans, sur son chassis, prise C sols") and reappeared in the 1657 inventory made after the death of the artist (no. 20: "un tableau... ou est represente des petits enfants", priced at 22 livres).