Benedetto Luti left his native Florence for Rome in 1690 where he joined a group of artists working under Carlo Maratta, the leading artist of the day. Luti prospered in Rome producing both religious and profane works - the latter often small in size and showing idealized, or fancy, heads in oil or pastel. A member of the Accademia di San Luca since 1694, Luti was elected Principe in 1720 thus influencing younger Italian artists and foreign painters such as Boucher, Subleyras and Carle Vanloo. In addition to his artistic achievements he was also recognized for his taste and connoisseurship and his studio became a bustling and important center of the early eighteenth-century Roman art market.
Luti's fancy heads of young boys and girls were much sought after by local and foreign grandees, patrons included Count Christian Danneskiold-Samsoe of Denmark, Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester and Ferdinando de'Medici. Painted or drawn from life, the artist often adapted prototypes to include genre details to animate his subjects. The present Head of a boy with a flute is a variant, with musical instrument, of the Head of a boy in the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich - of which there is a version in pastel in the Gallerie degli Ufizzi, Florence.
Dr. Edgar Peters Bowron has confirmed the attribution to Bendetto Luti, upon first hand inspection of the work (private communication with a previous owner).