After studying initially under Pierre de Sve in Paris, Nicolas Colombel travelled to Rome where he encountered the works of such masters as Raphael and Poussin, whose classicism was to influence him throughout his career. He was elected to the Accademia di San Luca in Rome in 1686, but by 1693 had returned to Paris, where, with the support of Pierre Mignard, he was elected member of the Acadmie Royale in 1694. He became a professor there in 1705, after exhibiting at the Salons of 1699 and 1704. It is at the earlier of the two Salons that he probably exhibited the present work, under the title Le Retour de Chasse de Diane, with six other pictures. The painting is typical of the artist's late style, in which he upheld the academic tradition of the Poussinistes in the face of the emerging Rubnistes. Colombel's own distinctive artistic personality, however, can be seen in his technical excellence and the sensitive juxtaposition of strong, bright colours.
The inscription on the frame records two names, 'Janucci. de Roland' and 'Coil. Robert', which may be identified as being those of Guillaume Robert and his wife Jean-Claude de Rolland. The former was Seigneur de Septeuil and became Conseiller au Parlement in 1689, before serving as Prsident de la Chambre des Comptes from 1701 to 1719. It is not known when he married Jean-Claude de Rolland, who is recorded as dying in 1738. Although the frame can be dated stylistically to the 1730s or 1740s and therefore some years after the date of the painting's execution, it is possible that it may have been commissioned for the picture, and that the figure of Diana may therefore be a portrait of Madame de Rolland.