Marcantonio Franceschini was the pupil of Carlo Cignani (1628-1719) himself the most distinguished pupil of Francesco Albani, and thus traced his artistic lineage directly back to Bolognese classicism. He interpreted the principles fundamental to this style with great rigour and by the end of the 17th Century his refined classical style won him commissions from patrician collectors throughout Europe, the most famous being Prince Johann Adam Andreas of Lichtenstein in Vienna. These patrons sought above all, examples of Franchescini's pastoral histories, including the subject of the present work, The Holy Family with Saint Anne.
We are grateful to Professor Dwight C. Miller, who on the basis of transparencies, confirms the attribution (private communication, 20 October 2003). He will include the picture in his forthcoming work on the artist. The figural group in this picture corresponds with that in Franceschini's Rest on the Flight into Egypt in the collection of the Duke of Norfolk, in which the figure of Saint Anne is omitted.