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The precise subject of this classical marine study has not been identified.
It is the working cartoon for a fresco in the Gallery of the Palazzo Farnese, Rome. All the early sources attribute it to Agostino. The cartoon is thought to be in large part or possibly entirely by Agostino. Some changes between the cartoon and the fresco are probably due to Annibale Carracci, by whom there are studies for the triton on the right.
Another cartoon in the collection, 'Cephalus carried off by Aurora in her Chariot' was designed for the same project.