Thought initially to derive from an invention by Ribera, there are at least three other known versions of this composition, the most-discussed of which, of marginally smaller dimensions than the present lot, is held at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. That picture is now attributed to Juan (or Giovanni) Dò, an artist working in Naples in the second quarter of the seventeenth century, and frequently claimed to be the hand behind the body of work currently given to the Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds. It was once thought to be by Ribera himself, given its close similarities to the two compositions of the same subject in the Escorial, before being downgraded to a studio copy of a lost original: until the name of Juan Dò was put forward, it was suggested that it might in fact be by Luca Giordano (see A.E. Pérez Sánchez, L’opera completa del Ribera, Milan, 1978, p. 141, no. 419), and that hypothesis has in fact more recently been reasserted. Indeed, Giordano’s possible authorship of the present work, when he was a young apprentice in Naples, has been proposed by Professor Riccardo Lattuada, acknowledging the proximity of the late production of Ribera and the early works of Giordano. Though it is not certain that Giordano trained under Ribera, the task of distinguishing their hands in some works has proved problematic, as Giordano sought to emulate the latter’s style in the mid-seventeenth century.