Traditionally attributed to Civerchio, this picture was correctly restored to Melone by Tanzi in 1982. He placed it shortly after a Madonna and Child at Bergamo (Accademia Carrara, no. 366) and notes links with the world of Cima, and, by comparison with that picture, 'a profound Giorgionesque accent'. Frangi, who accepts a date of towards 1510, considers that both pictures are of fundamental importance for an understanding of Melone's eclectic stylistic origins, and his experience both of Lombardy and the Venetians. He points to Cima, specifying the National Gallery Saint Jerome, for the landscape setting and notes that the Saint Jerome on the left is Bellinesque; for the trees and the luminosity of the landscape he invokes Giorgione, but points to parallels with the young Garofalo, while observing that the arrangement of the figures is presaged in Francia's Adoration of 1499 at Bologna (Pinacoteca Nazionale, no. 584). The general arrangement of the figures, as Frangi notes, was subsequently used by Melone for his somewhat later fresco (1512) of the subject in the presbytery of the Pieve della Mitria, near Nave.
Melone, who reacted against the restrained formulas of the doyen of Cremonese painters, Boccaccio Boccaccino, was - even before 1508, when his long association with the Brescian Girolamo Romanino began - influenced by artists from outside Cremona, experiencing transalpine developments through the medium of prints, as indeed some of the figures in the approaching train of the Magi in the background of this panel imply. The scale and elaboration of this suggest a clear intention to vie with such narrative compositions as Boccaccino's Way to Calvary (London, National Gallery, no. 806) and the picture marks an important stage in Melone's discovery of his potential, leading to such powerful statements as the Budapest Transfiguration and the Milan Arcievescovado Lamentation, both of which are directly indebted to Romanino. Despite his stylistic realignment, Melone's interest in some motifs was hardly to alter. The pruned tree behind Saint Francis in this picture bears an obvious relationship to that on the left of his masterpiece, the London Way to Calvary (National Gallery, no. 753).
This picture was formerly in the celebrated collection - indeed one of the greatest of the nineteenth century - of John, Lord Northwick. Consisting of paintings by Old Masters and contemporary artists, prints, coins, miniatures, enamels and other objects, the Northwick collection was initially held at Northwick Park, near Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire. When this became too small, Northwick purchased Thirlestaine House in Cheltenham to which he allowed access to any art lovers who wished to see the collection; until he sold it together with its contents though Christie's in 1838, he had a gallery at Connaught Place in London. Rushout died unmarried and intestate, and his property was therefore divided up between his three next of kin, who sold the collection together with Thirlestaine House.
The sale of the pictures and most other objets d'art took place in 1859 over twenty-two days, while the collection of prints was sold in 1860. Although some of the works were bought back by the successor to the title, George Rushout Bowles (1881-1887), and taken back to Northwick Park, many of the best were sold out of the family. Masterpieces of the collection included Moretto's altarpiece of The Virgin and Child with Saint Bernardino and other Saints, Francesco Francia's Portrait of Bartolomeo Bianchini, Raphael's Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Botticelli's Portrait of a young man, Beccafumi's Tanaquil and Marcia, Annibale Carracci's Domine, Quo Vadis, an early Madonna and Childi by Lorenzo di Credi (all National Gallery, London), Salvator Rosa's Phryne tempting Xenocrates (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), Piero di Cosimo's Pugliese Altar (Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri), Annibale Carracci's River Landscape and Bacchiacca's Flagellation (both National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.).
The collection at Olantigh, at least nine pictures in which were obtained at the Northwick sale, included a number of distinguished Italian pictures, for example Catena's Rest on the Flight (Pasadena, Norton Simon Museum, formerly given to Bellini), and an altarpiece by Neri di Bicci.