Nicholas Turner has confirmed the attribution to Annibale on examining the panel. Turner relates the portrait to two portraits of blind women formerly with Pierfrancesco Savelli, Bologna, and first published as Annibale by Anna Ottani Cavina, 'Studies from life: Annibale Carracci's paintings of the blind', in Emilian Painting of the 16th and 17th Centuries. A Symposium, Bologna, 1987, pp. 89-103. These two portraits, both oil on paper laid down on canvas, are of the same dimensions as the present lot. In all three studies, the subjects are shown facing slightly down and to the right, and are painted in quick light strokes with areas of the preparation showing through. Dr Ottani Cavina dates the two Savelli portraits to circa 1590, and notes that the subjects may be members of the Compagnia dei Ciechi, a mutual benefit society for the blind founded under the influence of Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti in Bologna in 1566. The portraits remained in the Paleotti family until the 1980s.
To this group can be added a Portrait of a blind man in black and white chalk on blue paper in the Uffizi, A. Ottani Cavina, 'Annibale Carracci's paintings of the blind: an addition', The Burlington Magazine, CXXXI (1989), p. 28, fig. 31.