This painting can be compared with other signed versions of the subject by Jacopo Palma, in particular the altarpiece datable to c. 1598-9 in the parish church of Trebaseleghe - a small town between Padua, Venice and Treviso - and the slightly later painting, c. 1603, in the church of San Trovaso in Venice, of similar scale. A third, slightly smaller, version (Grenville, South Carolina, Bob Jones University Gallery of Sacred Art) is dated to the 1610s, and has been tentatively identified with the Nascita di Nostra Signora nell'altare dei Farinari in the church of Sant'Apollinare (i.e. Sant'Aponal), recorded in situ for the last time by Zanetti in 1733 (A.M. Zanetti, Descrizione di tutte le pubbliche pitture della città di Venezia..., Venice, 1733, p. 268). A fourth lost depiction of the subject was in the Oratorio detto dei Bottegari in Venice (S. Mason Rinaldi, Palma il Giovane. L'opera completa, Milan, 1984, p. 185). It is tempting to identify the present picture with one of these two recorded but untraced versions of the subject, but this must remain a hypothesis.
The composition finds its inspiration in the altarpiece by Tintoretto in the Sant'Atanasio chapel in San Zaccaria, Venice, of c. 1563.
We are grateful to Dr. Stefania Mason Rinaldi for confirming the attribution on the basis of photographs.