Michelangelo Unterberger was trained in Cavalese with Giuseppe Alverti (1640-1716), a provincial painter with a considerable group of South Tyrolean pupils who later moved to Vienna (amongst them Paul Troger (1698-1762), to whom this picture has previously been attributed). After this initial training, Unterberger travelled to Venice where he may have worked under the supervision of Giovanni Battista Piazzetta. His exact progression is uncertain - he is recorded in Passau in 1725, but by 1737 he had certainly settled in Vienna, as he won first prize in life drawing at the Kunstakademie that year. He later became professor at the Kunstakademie and in 1751-54 its director. By the early 1750s, Unterberger was at the height of his career, one of the most sought after altarpiece painters of the Habsburg Monarchy.
The artist's style, which echoes the Venetian eighteenth-century Baroque had a considerable influence on artists of the following generation, for example Maulbertsch, who was to be appointed Professor at the Akademie in Vienna in 1759 (see the catalogue of the exhibition, Visionen des Barock, Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, 1965).