The Udny family records that this picture was formerly in the collection of King Charles I of England (no. 71). It is likely, however, that this is a confusion with the Saint John the Baptist now in the Louvre, from which the present composition closley derives. That work was bought from the late King's collection by the banker Jabach, on behalf of Cardinal Mazarin, from whom the work passed to King Louis XIV. A similar arrangement of the composition to the present picture is in the Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel, differing in the absence of a hair tunic in the Basel painting.
Robert Fullerton Udny (1722-1802), of Teddington, Middlesex, and Udny Castle, Aberdeenshire, was the brother of John Udny, the merchant who was successively Consul at Venice and Leghorn and formed a major collection over a period of some forty years in Italy. The Consul seems to have acted as agent for his brother, who visited Italy in 1769 and 1775, and assembled notable collections of both pictures and drawings.