The present copper belongs to a set of paintings based on a series of drawings and etchings by Crespi illustrating Giulio Cesare Croce's comic stories of Bertoldo, Bertoldino and Cacasenno (for a full discussion of the set, see, M. Pajes Merriman, op. cit., pp. 146-52, 212 and 320-26, nos. 303-42; and J. Spike, loc. cit.). According to Spike (on the basis of Zanotti's biography, G.P. Storia dell'Accademia Clementina di Bologna, Bologna, 1939, II, pp. 32-72), Crespi's earliest designs for this cycle were probably made in in the form of drawings, of which the corresponding drawing for the present copper is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (fig. a). Subsequently, Crespi executed a series of twenty etchings, for which the related print is in the British Museum (fig. b), followed by oil paintings on copper. Although, according to Spike, the whole series does not survive, it was originally in the possession of Prince Pamphilj and was later acquired from the Pamphilj by the Bergamasque nobleman, Count Ignazio Barziza. Merriman suggests (op. cit., p. 325) that the Pamphilj then re-acquired the pictures at a later date, as a complete series survives today in the Galleria Doria Pamhilj, although in a poor state and heavily retouched. However, Spike points out they are not all in the same direction as Crespi's etchings and proposes that it is more likely that the originals were eventually dispersed: both he and Merriman regard the present picture as one of Crespi's original paintings for the series.