Tobias Verhaeght (father of Willem van Haecht) traveled and worked in Italy for the first time in 1580 and like many other artists at the time, he was very impressed by the Alps. Furthermore he gained name and fame in Firenze and Rome. When he returned to Antwerp in 1590, he would keep painting these ferocious landscapes that remind us and are inspired strongly by Pieter Breughel. Together with Van Noord and Van Veen, he was one of the 3 mentors/masters of Rubens.
Little of his once so extensive oeuvre has been preserved, and the most of his remaining paintings are landscapes. He clearly had an affinity for panoramic landscapes in Mannerist tradition, with a predominancy in colour-use of blue and brown. Theme-wise we are looking at the temptation of Christ. The devil (represented by goat legs) is offering a (gold) brick to Christ who gently refuses and waves his opponent away.
An unique preparatory drawing of this painting: Sotheby's, London, 07/07/1966, lot nr 27, bron: RKD, afb. 0000181302