Catalan by birth, Francisco Ribalta received his artistic training in Madrid, under artists commissioned by Philip II to work at the Escorial. There he would have acquainted himself with the King's picture collection, especially works by the Venetian masters Titian and Sebastiano del Piombo, as well as looking at other Spanish artists such as Navarrete el Mudo and Bartolomé Carducho: all of them having some sort of influence on this highly receptive painter. Later he settled in Valencia, where he led a school of painting which included his son, Juan Ribalta (1597-1628) and stepson, Vicente Castelló (c. 1586-c. 1636), who, with other artists, have become collectively known as 'Los Ribalta'.
Ribalta's mature work from c. 1620, the period to which the present picture can be dated, is characterized by a pronounced move towards the production of highly naturalistic forms: his figures are painted realistically from muscular models taken from everyday life, powerfully modelled by strong chiaroscuro. In this, he is above all endebted to the work of Caravaggio, with whose Flagellation of 1607, now in the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, the present picture invites comparison.