Probably born in Ghent or Overijse (some archival records also mention Lille) in 1623, Gillis Neyts is first recorded as a member of the Antwerp guild of Saint-Luke in 1647. In 1643 he had married Clara de la Porte in Antwerp's St Jacob's Church; the pair was to have four children. It is possible that Neyts was a pupil of Lucas van Uden, though this was never conclusively proven. After spending some time in Dordrecht around 1650 before moving on to Spain in 1653, he had returned to the Netherlands by 1662, when he is recorded working in the Maas valley, including in Huy and Namur. In 1665 he was recorded as a citizen of Namur; by the late 1670's, he was active in Lille. In 1680, Neyts 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. A number of his works he engraved for print.
Mostly small in size yet monumental at the same time, his drawn oeuvre mainly consists of landscapes, often populated with travellers or herdsmen. Our drawing, which can be dated to the mid-1660's, is typical of the artists's style at that time. Confidently and effortlessly sketching in brown and grey washes with his brush in quick, somewhat nervous lines, Neyts beautifully portrayed this wooded river landscape with a castle.