One of a series of one hundred double-portrait drawings by Ligorio depicting the ancestors and kinsmen of Alfonso II Este, Duke of Modena. Ligorio's designs were used by Bartolomeo and Girolamo Faccini for their grisaille decorations in the courtyard of Duke Alfonso's palace in Ferrara, which were completed in 1577. The commission, which was intended to show the great age and genealogical importance of the Este family, originated in the rivalry between the Este and the Medici which only ended with the death of Alfonso II in 1597. This rivalry was part of the larger struggle between the Papacy, with which the Medici had allied themselves, and the Holy Roman Empire to which the Este, as an old Guelph family, were traditionally allied.
The series of drawings is probably related to Giovanni Pigna's Historia de'principi d'Este published in 1570, and reprinted with illustrations in 1585. The complex geneaology was intended to establish a direct line between the Roman Emperor Caius Atticus and the Este family. The inscriptions on the present drawings identify the figures as William, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and Philip, Duke of Brunswick-Grubenhagen, descendants in the Guelph line of Alfonso d'Este's ancestor Azzo II, Margrave of Este.
24 drawings by Ligorio from the series are in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, four in the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich, four in the British Museum, London, two in the Uffizi, Florence, while single sheets are in Stuttgart, Princeton and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.