Coomans studied under Nicaise De Keyser (1813-1887) at the Academy of Antwerp, under Pierre Van Hanselaere (1786-1862) in Gent, and under Baron Gustave Wappers (1803-1874). At the early stage of his career Coomans chose Medieval subjects; but in his mature years, in pictures such as the present work, he found his true métier in the increasing vogue for scenes from antiquity.
'For the first time artists painted classical genre. An essentially popular vision of the ancient world emerged, one which was concerned with its everyday life rather than grand, apocalyptic events traditionally the subject matter of the classical painter. As Gibbons's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is displaced by Lytton's The Last Days of Pompeii, so David yields to Alma-Tadema. Artists were at pains to create a more accessible antiquity, one in which the spectator might more readily identify with the actors. The new patronage, for whom history painting had been rendered palatable by anecdote, now relished the same treatment of the ancient world. Artists found a happy aid in archaeology, a rapidly developing study which shed so much light on the ordinary as opposed to the epic. Pompeii, excavated progressively through the century, was a treasure trove and an inspiration' (P. Hook and M. Poltimore, Popular 19th Century Painting - A Dictionary of European Genre Painters, Woodbridge, 1986, p. 209).