Traditionally attributed to Pietro da Cortona, the drawing is now accepted along with a drawing in the Louvre of similar size, technique and style depicting the Martyrdom of Saint Peter, as by Ciro Ferri, G. Briganti, Pietro da Cortona, Florence, 1982 edition, p. 299, fig. 287/40. The attribution to Cortona was first challenged by Walter Vitzthum who described the Louvre drawing as 'Ferresque' in his review of Briganti's book, Master Drawings, 1963, I, p. 50, illustrated. Both the Louvre drawing and the present sheet share similarities in the details of the faces and the thick consistency of line, and are stylistically similar to two drawings by Ferri from Holkham Hall sold in these Rooms, 2 July 1991, lots 49-50, now respectively in the British Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum.
We are grateful to Dr. Jörg Martin Merz for his kind assistance in cataloguing this drawing.