This intriguing relief is closely reminiscent of the battle scenes which often appear on the sides of Ancient Roman sarcophagi. Compare, for example, with the Roman 3rd-century A.D. sarcophagus showing the battle between Amazons and Greeks, Centaurs and Lapiths in the British Museum (inv. no. 1846,0831.1). As in the present relief, in these scenes dynamic horsemen rear their horses, whilst the wounded lay fallen on the ground. Sarcophagi proved to be influential sources for Renaissance artists, and it is likely that the present relief was carved in a major centre of the study of the classical past, such as Mantua, where the Gonzaga court possessed an unrivalled collection of antiquities. The famous engraving, the Battle of the Sea Gods by Andrea Mantegna, for example, is believed to have been inspired by Roman sarcophagi (Christiansen, op. cit., p. 59).
K. Christiansen, The Genius of Andrea Mantegna, New Haven and London, 2010, p. 59