This painting and its pendant are copies of a pair of works, painted by a dozen major Antwerp painters coordinated by Jan Brueghel, that were commissioned in 1615 and completed in 1618 as a gift for the Archdukes, and were destroyed in a fire in 1731. The originals has been at Tervuren (inventories of 1677, 1701, 1708).
According to Díaz Padrón in Brussels 1985, Jan Brueghel's part was limited t the flowers, the animals, the pseudo-engravings, the instruments, and the garland painting at the lower right. He further suggests that Jan painted the sliver of (a copy of?) his father's Preaching of John the Baptist which can also be seen at the right-hand side.
The Paintings by Rubens seen in the back gallery were all done at around this time, ie they were new works. There is a Bacchanal with Leopards (now in Montreal) that is mentioned in Rubens's famous letter to Dudley Carlton, and a Tiger and Leopard Hunt (now in Dresden). According to Díaz Padrón, Francken copied these works here, while Jan Brueghel copied them in Madrid's Sense of Sight. They were not part of the Archducal collection. In the front room, the Judgement of Paris does not repeat any work of that theme by Rubens but is (oddly) related to his Education of Marie de Medici.
Who exactly executed these copies has been disputed. The 1636 inventory called them works by Rubens and Brueghel. In his 1975 catalogue of the Prado collection, Díaz Padrón listed them as Brueghel and Van Balen. In the 1995 catalogue he suggested Gerard Seghers for the painter of the allegorical figures. He also hypothesized that in the original works, the paintings at the right had been "originals" by specific artists while those in the gallery to the rear, which replicate known works, were filled in by Frans Francken. In the Brussels 1985 catalogue he wavered between attributing the figures to Van Balen or to Rubens toning down his style to harmonize with a collaborator. Ertz's attribution of the works to Jan the Younger is impossible: he was in Italy in the years before they were sent to Spain and would surely not have been entrusted with a major royal commission in his teens. Of course it is possible that there was studio work involved in these very large copies. In 1636 inventory they were attributed to Rubens and Brueghel.
According to Díaz Padrón 1985, the two paintings were part of a group of works ordered in 1623 by Queen Isabelle de Bourbon, the wife of Philip IV, to decorate her apartments, "la Torre de la Reina." They were paid for by the Marquis de Malpica at the initiative of the Duchess of Gandía in the same year. Citing: Archives Philip IV, liasse 123.
Vergara 1999 agrees that very little of Rubens's own work can be seen in this copy although it was important, along with the other works in this shipment to Isabelle, in giving the Spanish court a sense of Rubens's artistic value.
A copy signed by J. Boets and dated 1660 (Canvas, 135 x 200) was sold Paris: Artcurial, March 26, 2014.