Probably born in Ghent (some archival records also mention Overijse and Lille) in 1623, Gillis Neyts is first recorded as a member of the Antwerp guild of Saint-Luke in 1647. It is possible that he was a pupil of Lucas van Uden, though this was never conclusively proven. After spending some time in Holland, Spain and France, he returned to Antwerp, where he remained until his death in 1687. As a painter he specialized in landscapes; however, he is much more appreciated for his drawings, which provide ample testimony to his talents as a draughtsman.
Often small in size yet monumental at the same time, they mostly depict travellers in a landscape, as is the case in the present drawing. Confidently and effortlessly sketching in quick, somewhat nervous lines, Neyts manages to convincingly evoke humans and animals moving along the trees and ruins. It has been suggested that the fantasy landscape in the background could allude to Jerusalem, due to the curious domed temple to the right; this however remains speculative.