Despite being a competent portrait painter, Sassoferrato specialized in easel paintings of a devotional nature. Strongly influenced by Raphael, his pictures usually represent the Madonna alone at prayer or with the Christ Child. This is one of Sassoferrato's most celebrated compositions and is known in a number of variants, the present version distinguishable by the crossed hands of the Virgin resting gently on her breast as she prays.
François Macé de Lépinay, who kindly confirmed the attribution to Sassoferrato upon inspection of the original (written communication, 30 September 2006), notes that there are six known versions of this composition. M. Macé de Lépinay will include this work in his forthcoming catalogue raisonné on the artist.