Similar in handling to a drawing of Saint Joseph and the infant Christ in the Prado, dated by Wethey to 1650-7, H. Wethey, Alonso Cano, Pintor, Escultor y Arquitecto, Madrid, 1983, p. 164, no. D41, pl. 5.
Although born in Granada, Cano spent the early part of his career in Seville, with Pacheco, and in Madrid where he worked both with Velásquez and his arch-rival Zurbarán. In 1652, following accusations that he had murdered his wife, Cano returned to Andalucia, and was largely responsible for the development of Spanish Baroque art in the south. His influence as an architect and sculptor as well as painter can be seen particularly in Granada. He became a prebendary of the cathedral, and was ordained in 1658.
This sheet bears a provenance which is particularly notable for the study of Spanish art. Richard Ford (1796-1858) lived in Spain from 1830 to 1833, during which time he made a number of journeys through the country on horseback which later formed the basis of his Handbook for Travellers in Spain published in 1845. Owing to the delicacy of his wife's health, which had been responsible for their departure from England, the family spent their summers at Granada and their winters in Seville with Ford's close friend Julian Williams, the British Vice-Consul. Williams was a collector of Spanish art himself and assisted Ford in forming a large collection of Spanish paintings, drawings and sculpture. In his Handbook Ford commented that 'The private galleries are few and everyday becoming less....The richest are those of our valued friend Don Julian, the English vice-consul, who beyond all doubt is the first judge in Europe of Spanish art', R. Ford, op. cit., 1845, p. 263.
Williams also owned a portfolio of drawings and prints formerly belonging to the Conde del Aquila, from which, in 1831, he gave Ford a drawing of Christ on the Cross by Murillo, J. Brown, Murillo and his Drawings, exhib. cat., Princeton, University Art Museum, 1976-7, no. 56.