Leonaert Bramer travelled to Rome where he is first recorded in 1619 and stayed there until 1628 possibly only leaving to escape the legal consequences of a brawl that he had started and in which Claude Lorraine was wounded. While in Rome he was influenced by the works of Adam Elsheimer, who was famous for his night scenes. On returning to Delft his distinctive style made an immediate impression on patrons and artists alike.
M. Plomp and J. Goldsmith noted that 'The Circumcision of Christ must have been a favourite subject', pointing out that Bramer probably painted it at least thirty times (J. Goldsmith, ed. Leonaert Bramer, 1596-1674, Ingenious Painter and Draughtsman in Rome and Delft, Delft, 1994, p. 68). Other examples can be found in The National Museum, Warsaw (M.06.559) and the National Museum, Stockholm (1159). The present work is a good example of the artist's love of drama, exoticism and mystery that contributed to his lasting popularity 'the aura of exoticism and mystery portrayed in many of these temple interiors must have attracted a large number of people without their necessarily having an immediate religious connection'.