The painting is typical of the small devotional works, produced for sale, rather than commissioned by private patrons. The unusually sad expressions on the faces of Joseph and Mary recall those painted by the Leiden artist Cornelis Engelbertszon (about 1468-1533) and his followers. Also unusual is the tapir-like braying donkey. This painting may have been owned by Charles Frederick Greville (1749-1809), one of the lovers of Emma Hamilton, who later became the mistress of Admiral Nelson. Like William Roscoe’s collection of paintings, Greville’s had a number of early 14th and 15th century works. It included another fragment of the fresco by Spinello Aretino of which Roscoe also owned sections. When Greville sold his collection in 1810 it was said to show the ‘progress of painting’, just like Roscoe’s in 1816. He also shared with Roscoe a passion for botany. In the past the painting has also been attributed to other artists including the German printmaker and sculptor Ludwig Krug (1490-1532) and the Netherlandish painter Jan de Cock (active by 1506 and dead before 1527).