For the last twenty years the series of six biblical scenes to which this canvas belongs has been attributed to the circle of Juan de la Corte (grandfather of Gabriel, the celebrated flower painter). Documented as a painter active in Madrid in 1613, a series of works dated between 1623 and 1642 are known by his hand. De la Corte failed to become Court Painter in 1627 as this place was not filled, while in 1638 he paid the highest amount of any Madrid painter to the tax authorities for his sold works. Numerous signed and unsigned works of varying quality produced by De la Corte’s studio are known. There are surviving series on the Trojan War and the Victories of Charles V while documentary evidence indicates the presence of around 40 works in the Buen Retiro Palace and the Alcázar in Madrid on biblical, mythological and historical subjects and landscapes.
The biblical episode depicted here is not depicted with sufficient precision to allow for a definite identification. Given that the city in the background (similar to those found in three other works in this series) is in flames, it has been suggested that this canvas depicts the second attack of the Babylonians on Jerusalem (II Kings 25, 8-12) by the captain of the guard Nebuzaradan. Alternatively, the combat between two leaders in their chariots may suggest that this was the first attack led by Nebuchadnezzar himself (II Kings 24, 10-16), although in that account there is no reference to fire and King Jehoiachin surrendered without any previous military engagement.
Compositionally and in its use of colour this scene is extremely similar to the others in the series. The chariots are decorative without being excessively ornate while the composition also includes massed ranks of soldiers and items of booty (the traditional circular shields) in the empty area in the foreground.