As most of Cerrini's paintings are undated it is difficult to establish a precise chronology of his work, particularly as his style remained fairly constant throughout the course of his life. In the 1630s Cerrini moved to Rome and it was from this time that the distinct Bolognese flavor evident in his early work gave way to a more classical interpretation influenced by Carlo Maratta. The statuesque quality of the figures in the present composition suggests that it may have been executed after his move to Rome. Cerrini's first recorded work -- an altarpiece for the right transept of S. Maria in Traspontina, Rome, The Apparition of the Trinity to Mary Magdalene de'Pazzi -- dates from 1639. Over the next fifteen years Cerrini worked widely for religious orders in Rome, and from the mid-1650s his paintings can also be found in Florence, where he worked mainly for the Medici family on secular and religious commissions, including the Saint Augustine in the church of Santo Spirito.
The attribution of the present painting was first suggested by Dr. Eric Schleier and can be supported on comparison with the Joseph interpreting Dreams offered at Sotheby's, New York, 3 June 1988, lot 80; and Joseph with Potiphar's Wife sold at Phillips, London, 6 July 1993, lot 6.