The scale, technique and composition of the present drawing relate closely to another of The Virgin and Child, formerly in the Franz Koenigs Collection and sold at Sotheby's, New York, 23 January 2001, lot 1 (J. Brown, Murillo and his Drawings, Princeton, 1976, no. 75). The inscriptions to the lower left of both drawings are remarkably similar. Dr Brown suggests that this may be a signature, although it has also been suggested that it is a later inscription indicating that both drawings were in the collection of Sir William Stirling Maxwell.
Although it does not seem to relate directly to a known painting, the present composition has much in common with Murillo's Holy Family formerly in the collection of Baron de Forest, Biarritz (D. Angulo Iñiguez, Murillo, catálogo critico, Madrid, 1981, II, no. 186, pl. 314). A date circa 1670 has been suggested for both painting and drawing.
A close copy of the present drawing, in red and black chalk, was formerly in the Jovellanos collection, Gijón (A.E. Pérez Sánchez, Catálogo de la Colección de dibujos del Instituto Jovellanos de Gijón, Gijón, 1969 [2nd edition, Oviedo, 2003], p. 360, no. 324).
We are grateful to Dr. Benito Navarrete for confirming the attribution on the basis of a photograph and for his help cataloguing this drawing.