Among the best Dutch engravers active in the circle of Hendrick Goltzius, Jacob de Gheyn II is also recognized as one of the great Dutch draftsmen of his time. This double-sided study sheet, which has only recently resurfaced, exemplifies the artist's careful and sensitive observation of nature, as well as his virtuoso drawing technique, which was rooted in his training as a printmaker. Studies of the same horse are found on two other drawings, one in Amsterdam (Stichtung P. en N. de Boer) and the other in Paris (École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts). The latter sheet also bears sketches related to a print dated 1603, which provides an approximate date for the Museum's drawing.
The provenance of this sheet can be traced back to several of the most outstanding eighteenth-century Dutch collectors of drawings. One of them wrote the words "Keer Om" (Turn over) at the lower left to point to the study of a bean plant on the back, one of the rare examples of a watercolor by De Gheyn.