Burrini was one of the most gifted Bolognese painters of his age, noted for his dramatic, painterly style, and a chief proponent of the neo-Venetian current in late-seventeenth-century Bolognese art. He trained in the studios of Domenico Maria Canuti and Lorenzo Pasinelli and travelled to Venice. His vigorous style is said to have influenced the development of Giuseppe Maria Crespi, with whom he shared a studio in 1686-8.
Burrini depicted the Cumaean Sibyl on various occasions (see for example, E. Riccómini, Giovanni Antonio Burrini, Ozzano Emilia, 1999, pp. 161 and 213-4, nos. 5 and 44, pls. 5 and 93). The style of the present picture closely compares to Maddalena (ibid., pp. 174-5, no. 11, pls. IX and 24): for example, the treatment of the highlights on the curls, the smooth skin surface and lips, and the fluid brushstrokes in the drapery.