The subject of the painting is taken from the Old Testament (I Samuel 25), which recounts an episode during David's exile in the Judean desert. When a rich local farmer refused to give sustenance to David and his band of outlaws, they threatened to punish him. However, the farmer's wife, Abigail, took to David a peace offering of food and drink which was graciously received. When Abigail's husband found out about this, he suffered a stroke and died, after which David took the widow as his wife.
We are grateful to Dr. Mary Newcome Schleier for confirming the attribution to Orazio de Ferrari on the basis of a transparency (verbal communication, 21 November 2000). Dott. Piero Donati (private communication, 21 November 2000) believes the present work to be 'di scuola genoese di buona qualità', but not by de Ferrari, an assessment also made on the basis of a transparency.