This serene depiction of the youthful Saint John the Baptist - easily mistaken, as at the time of the 1970 sale, for the head of an angel - relates to a composition which is only recorded in a tondo long attributed to Botticelli in full, and now attributed to his workshop (London, National Gallery, inv. no. NG275; 84 cm. diam.). The tondo can be dated to circa 1490, not long after the completion of Botticelli's masterpieces, the Primavera (c. 1478) and The Birth of Venus (c. 1484; both Florence, Uffizi), as well as some of his most magnificent and moving religious works, the Lamentation (Munich, Alte Pinakothek) and the great tondi the Madonna of the Magnificat and the Madonna of the Pomegranate (both Uffizi). The National Gallery tondo bears a contemporary inscription on the reverse 'M[?] Giuljano da san Ghallo', possibly referring to the great Florentine carver and architect Giuliano da Sangallo (c. 1445-1516), who may have been the tondo's original commissioner, or the author of its original frame. The wood grain in the present panel, which runs diagonally to the picture rectangle, reflects the fact that Saint John's head would originally have been inclined in prayer, as in the tondo, where the stately, en face image of the Madonna, the solidity of her body accentuated by a her gently cascading blue mantle, is framed by the reverently inclined faces of Saint John and an angel.