Michele Tosini began his early training in Florence with Lorenzo di Credi and Antonio del Ceraiolo. In circa 1516 he entered the workshop of Ridolfo Ghirlandaio (1483-1561), and by the mid-1520s, the two artists were often collaborating. Giorgio Vasari writes in his 1568 Life of Ridolfo, David, and Benedetto Ghirlandaio that Michele was Ridolfo's greatest disciple and that the two loved one another as father and son, which is why he was known always as Michele di Ridolfo. Their close working relationship spanned several decades.
Although his early output shows the influence of Fra Bartolomeo and Andrea del Sarto, he later adopted the Mannerist sensibility, and by the second quarter of the sixteenth century the influence of Bronzino and Salviati is visible in his work. In the 1550s Tosini was engaged on a number of significant commissions, foremost among them the fresco decoration of the Salone dei Cinquecento in the Palazzo Vecchio, where he worked alongside Vasari and other leading artists.
The creation of devotional paintings for his Florentine clientele was his speciality and Tosini would often repeat his most successful compositions, altering certain elements. He produced several versions of his most successful Madonnas and this composition recurs, albeit with significant differences in the detail, in the pictures sold in these Rooms, 11 December 1992, lot 3; and another at Christie's, Rome, 18 June 2003, lot 444.