This animated relief was carved at a time when the Netherlands had established itself as the foremost maritime and economic power in the world. In the relief a young Mercury surveys a group of equally youthful figures engaging in activities related to both trade and travel. The characteristics of the faces are reminiscent of Artus Quellinus the Elder (1609-1668), who had a major impact on sculptors working in Antwerp and the surrounding area. The shape of the relief suggests it was made as a specific commission, probably for the interior of a church. It may have been commissioned by a merchant guild. A precedent for such a commission are the five marble reliefs by Quellinus' pupil, Guillielmus Kerricx the Elder, made in 1678 for the altar of the Cooper's Guild of Antwerp in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Antwerp, which were sold in these rooms, 2 July 1991, lots 82-4.