Related to the picture commissioned before 1637 by Cardinal Lorenzo Magalotti, Bishop of Ferrara, and now at Ann Arbor, L. Salerno, I dipinti del Guercino, Rome, 1988, no. 180. According to Guercino's Libro dei Conti the picture was not painted and delivered until 1639, two years after the death of Magalotti. The entry in the Libro dei Conti for 12 July adds that the picture was left by Magalotti in his will to Pope Urban VIII Barberini: 'Dal Ill.m o. Sig.r Horatio Magalotti si e riceuto ducat.ni 300-per il Quadro del Ester donato alla Santita di Papa Vrbano VIII. lasiato gia per testam.to dal Em.m o Sig.r Card.le Magalotti, che fano in tutti a L 5.5 la soma di Schudi 939 L3-', B. Ghelfi, Il libro dei Conti del Guercino, Venice, 1997, pp. 97-8. The picture stayed in the Barberini family until it was bought for the Duke of Northumberland in the second half of the 18th Century.
Four secure drawings by Guercino can be connected to Esther and Ahasuerus. A partial study was at Sotheby's London, 23 March 1978, and two drawings for Ahasuerus were sold at Christie's London 23 November 1976, lot 106 and 11 April 1978, lot 49. A drawing of Esther supported by her attendants is at Christ Church, Oxford (J. Byam Shaw, Drawings by Old Masters at Christ Church, Oxford, 1976, no. 997, pl. 603). A drawing of the entire composition ascribed to the artist is at Windsor Castle, D. Mahon and N. Turner, The Drawings of Guercino in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle, Cambridge, 1989, no. 156, pl. 315.
Another drawing on a similarly small scale is at Windsor Castle, D. Mahon and N. Turner, op. cit., no. 83, pl. 87.