The centre of this painting is occupied by Christ who extends his hand to heal Malchus's ear. Malchus, the young servant of the chief priest, had been wounded by Saint Peter during the arrest of Christ in Gethsemane.
The over-crowded composition and the dramatic lighting recall the treatment of this subject by Caravaggio and his followers. This might be the work of one of many Netherlandish painters who emulated Caravaggio's expressive style in the 1620s.
The figure of the bearded soldier in armour recalls the soldier in Caravaggio's The Taking of Christ (1602, National Gallery of Ireland, inv. 14,072). The man holding Malchus on the left, with his open shirt falling down to uncover his right shoulder and torso, appears in Passion scenes painted by Louis Finson (also called Ludovicus Finsonius; before 1580-1617), who was one of the first Flemish painters to contribute to the propagation of Caravaggism outside Italy. The composition and the figure of the soldier holding a rope over Christ's head on the left are close to Guercino's Betrayal of Christ (about 1621, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, inv. 1131).
The Bowes Museum's manuscript catalogue gives the painting's provenance to a 'Russian collection', and identifies the biblical source as the Gospel of Saint Mark.