Francesco di Basio Zaganelli was one of the outstanding Romagnol painters of the early cinquecento, a pupil possibly of Palmezzano, but strongly marked by the influence of Ferrarese contemporaries. His brother Bernardino collaborated with him and their workshop at Cotignola was a productive one; Bernardino only signed one picture, the London Saint Sebastian of 1506 as his independent work. After his death, by 1513, Francesco worked alone, responding to a wider range of influences, including that of northern prints, and securing major commissions in Ravenna where he had settled by 1513.
This moving picture -- in which the artist's delight in landscape is perfectly expressed -- was known to Raffaella Zama only from an old photograph. She argued that the date -- 1512 -- did not fit easily into the recognised chronology of the artist's work, comparing it rather with the Viadana Madonna and Child with Saints of 1518 and the Ravenna Adoration of the Shepherds with Saints Jerome and Bonaventura (her nos. 71 and 83). She therefore tentatively suggested a date of 1522. However, as Zama now agrees on the basis of new photographs, the authority of the inscription seems incontestable; and the date of 1512 is surely confirmed by parallels in the, admittedly damaged, altarpiece of the Conception of 1513 at Forli (Zama, no. 58). Although obviously much larger, this is composed in very similar terms, with God the Father on a nimbus of clouds -- with putti instead of cherubim -- and below two groups of three saints similarly divided by a central landscape.