Victor Wolfvoet the Younger was born in Antwerp in 1612. His father, Victor I Wolfvoet, was a painter and art dealer whose oeuvre consists of only a few known works. The younger Victor may have studied with his father at an early age; it is more certain that he later on worked in the studio of Peter Paul Rubens, where he assisted in the production of works by the workshop. Wolfvoet married in 1639 and only became a member of the guild of St Luke in 1644/45. According to some, this accounts for his rather limited known oeuvre. However, as recent research on the artist had begun to shed some more light on his life and work, it seems that many works that were once attributed to Wolfvoet’s contemporaries might be, in fact, attributed to him.
Wolfvoet was active in Rubens' workshop sometime in the 1630's and clearly had ready access to the latter's modello's and drawings, which he frequently copied. The cooler and crisper tonality of his paintings however is much different to Rubens', and Wolfvoet freely omitted, changed and added many details. His preferred medium were, small, very thinly rolled copper plates, which allowed for a transparent and brilliant effect as well as being easily transportable.
Like many of his fellow Antwerp artists, Wolfvoet also engaged in collaborative projects, working with several leading flower painters by painting the cartouches in their flower garlands. A good example of such a work can be seen in a fine work currently in a private collection in Antwerp, where a scene with a Virgin and Child painted by Wolfvoet is surrounded by a very sumptuous flower garland by Jan van Kessel, who also signed the work.
Besides as an artist, Wolfvoet, like his father, was also active as an art dealer. An inventory of his estate after his death lists over seven hundred works, including twenty oil sketches by Rubens (amongst which were several designs for the ceilings in the Antwerp Jesuit church). Interestingly, the inventory also mentions several copies after Rubens’ sketches, some clearly denoted as being in Wolfvoet’s own hand (such as the pair now in the Mauritshuis, The Hague). The present work, based on Rubens' large-scale Rape of Proserpina which was painted for the Torre de la Parada in 1636/37 (now in the Prado, Madrid, inv. no. P001659), attests to Wolfvoet's presence in the workshop in the late 1630's.