This previously unpublished picture, whose authorship has only recently been recognised from the configuration of the monogram, is a notable addition to the early oeuvre of the artist. Few details concerning Heimbach's early career are known. Born in Ovelgönne in Germany, he is thought to have been sponsored by Anton Günther von Oldenburg (1603-1667) to study painting in Holland at some point in the 1630s. An Evening Scene of 1637 shows him adapting the style of the Utrecht Caravaggist painters to the type of convivial scene painted by Palamedes and Dirck Hals (see G. Gottsche, Wolfgang Heimbach, Berlin, 1935, no. 8). Although the identity of the sitter is yet to be established, his costume would indicate that he was German and thus that by 1638 Heimbach had returned briefly to Oldenburg. In around 1640 Heimbach travelled southwards to Italy and a Nocturnal Banquet of that year in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, may have been painted en route.
Of Heimbach's other early works, the present picture relates closest to a Portrait of a Gentleman in a Landscape dated 1644, in the Louvre, which to judge from the style of the palace in the background, was probably painted in Italy (see E. Foucart-Walter in Le Revue de Louvre, 1984, no. 4, p. 284, Récentes acquisitions). That sitter is also unidentified but his likeness to the present subject suggests that they may be the same man painted six years apart.
Heimbach remained in Rome until 1651 and produced there a group of candlelit scenes for the Doria Pamphilj family, the works by which he is best known. After a brief sojourn working for Graf Anton Oldenburg, he stayed at the court of Frederick III of Denmark between 1653 and 1662 and by 1665 was back in Oldenburg where he remained until his death.