Josua de Grave was born in Amsterdam in 1643. It is not known who he studied with. He entered the Haarlem guild of St. Luke in 1659. De Grave specialized in topographical drawings, traveling extensively in the Netherlands and France. However, several fantastical Italianate landscapes by his hand are also known. De Grave’s work is often confused with that of his contemporaries, the brothers Valentijn and Barend Klotz, who he made several travels with. Luckily, the present work is signed, leaving us with no doubts as to its attribution.
The drawing shows a hilly country landscape, with several farmers and travelers in the foreground, while a column of soldiers can be seen marching down the road towards the village in the background, where their pitched tents can also be made out. The location of our drawing has been identified as Grand-Halleux, near Vielsalm in present-day Belgium. The church in the background is the same as the one in a drawing now in the Hamburger Kunsthalle (inv. no. 22000), which is inscribed 'Grand. Haleis:'. As another drawing of the same encampment, formerly in the Perman collection in Stockholm, is signed and dated October 9 1675, it is highly probable that the present work was executed on or near the same date.