We are grateful to Dr. Giorgio Marini for proposing the attribution to Pasquale Ottino on the basis of a transparency. We are also grateful to Professor Sergio Marinelli who although not dismissive of the attribution to the Veronese painter, has noted strong Emilian overtones in the direction of Giovanni Lanfranco. Similarly, Dr. Angelo Mazza, to whom we are also grateful, deems the picture to be Bolognese and close stylistically to Alessandro Tiarini.
The nature of the subject alone is vaguely Emilian in recalling the tradition of prints established by the Lascivie, executed by Agostino Carracci, of overtly profane and sexual themes. The Emilian characteristics may also be explained by the fact that Ottino's output was strongly influenced by Bolognese art of the period and by Guido Reni and Ludovico Carracci in particular. Caravaggesque traits can also be found within his oeuvre, showing his awareness of the work of Marcantonio Bassetti and, more obviously, Alessandro Turchi, with whom he had trained under Felice Brusasorci. Dal Pozzo (Le vite de' pittori, degli scultori et architetti veronesi, Verona, 1719, pp. 167-8), records a visit to Rome, although this remains disputed.
Paintings on slate are very often related to Verona, a city where slate was quarried nearby and could be easily obtained. Between 1590 and 1630 there developed a huge growth in demand for these small, intimate paintings, that were often enriched by ornate frames and admired for their jewel-like qualities. The use of a new support inevitably resulted in a new and original way of painting that was characterised by the simple, uncrowded compositions defined by strong colour and the dramatic nocturnal effects made possible by the slate coloured background. For a full discussion on painting on slate, see the exhibition catalogue, Pietra dipinta. Tesori nascosti del '500 e del '600 da una collezione privata milanese, ed. M. Bona Castellotti, Milan, 2000, pin partiuclar S. Marinelli, 'I dipinti su paragone veronesi', pp. 27-31.