Spinello Aretino, born as his name inplies in Arezzo, was one of the protagonists of Tuscan painting in the late trecento and early quattrocento, receiving major commissions not only in his home town, but also in Lucca, Siena, Florence and Pisa. Spinello, whose father had been a goldsmith, was arguably the most effective painter to emerge in Tuscany during the 1370s, and absorbed the influence not only of his Giottesque and Orcagnaesque predecessors, but also of Sienese painting, so well represented in Arezzo, and of contemporary sculptors, including Andrea Pisano. He was one of the most constructively influential painters of his generation, not only in Arezzo, where his son Parri Spinelli would develop an eccentric and highly individual late Gothic style, but also on the painters of the major towns for which he worked.
This panel was evidently the central element of a predella, two narrower lateral sections of which are known, the Nativity and the Adoration of the Kings, respectively in a private collection in Genoa and in that of H. Kisters (Weppelmann, nos. 63 (a) and (b)). Weppelmann suggests that these were part of a triptych, of which the central panel was the Madonna and Child enthroned with Saints John the Baptist, Anthony Abbot, Margaret and Lucy with two Angels from the Kress Collection (Lewisburg, Bucknell University Art Museum; Weppelman, no. 61), and a small panel of the Virgin Annunciate, known only from a photograph (Weppelman, no. 62) may have been the right-hand pinnacle. The Lamentation corresponds closely in width with the Lewisburg panel, which measures 95.2 by 57 centimetres, and it may be significant that the base of the cross is more or less aligned on the step of the throne which is to the right of centre in the larger panel, implying perhaps that the latter was intended for a position where it would be approached from the right. Weppelman dates the panels to the late 1390s.