As Peter Fuhring noted in his entry for this drawing in the Houthakker Collection catalogue (see Literature
), having worked for a number of years in Antwerp, the engraver and designer Cornelis Bos travelled to Italy, remaining in Rome from 1548 until 1550. Early in his stay, he seems to have designed an elaborate frieze depicting The Triumph of Neptune,
which incorporated motifs taken from Andrea Mantegna and Giulio Romano.1
Still in 1548, he engraved the design, in the same direction, on three copperplates, and the present drawing corresponds to the central section of the composition. Bos's various ornament prints, which combine Italian grotesque motifs with typically northern strapwork, were very influential in the development of grotesque decoration in the Netherlands.
1. S. Schéle, Cornelis Bos. A Study of the Origins of the Netherland Grotesque, Stockholm 1965, no. 55, pl. 20