This hitherto unknown canvas is, as Professor Alessandro Ballarin (who first examined it when still largely obscured by varnish) confirms, an early work by Jacopo Bassano. Surface cleaning has now revealed the vibrancy of colour so characteristic of Bassano from the outset of his career. The picture is of circa 1534, when the painter was still working at Bassano under the aegis of his father, Francesco Bassano, il vecchio (c. 1475-c. 1539). The solid, stocky types recur in other early works, while the numerous pentiments show how unaccustomed the young artist was to working out a figural group of such complexity. On seeing the picture cleaned, Professor Ballarin suggests that this may indeed be the artist's earliest independent work. As Professor Peter Humfrey, who independently endorsed the attribution on the basis of photographs, observed, the architectural setting is paralleled in the evidently more sophisticated and thus somewhat later Christ among the Doctors in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
This canvas is apparently undocumented, but the composition is presumably in some way related to the fresco commissioned for the church of Cartigliano in 1535. The subject is described as 'La istoria del flagelo de Christo che chazó fora del tempio queli che vendeve et comprava ...' in the Bassano's Libro Secondo (L. Puppi, Il libro secondo di Francesco e Jacopo dal Ponte, Bassano, 1992, p. 268 (F. 125v). The earliest payment for this is of 3 June and the instalment on the 4 October.