The composition was inspired by the widely-admired and influential print, The Death of the Virgin, made by Martin Schongauer (Bartch 33) early in his career (its first dated copy was made in 1481). As recounted in The Golden Legend, an angel caused the apostles, who were scattered across the world, to be caught up in a cloud and borne to the Virgin's door, where they clustered around her bed, 'And about the third hour of the night Jesus Christ came with sweet melody and song, with the orders of the angels', and with the patriarchs, martyrs, confessors and virgins. 'And thus in the morning the soul issued out of the body and fled up into the arms of her Son'. Schongauer's inspiration for the composition derives, in turn, from the fourteen illustrations in the popular contemporary book of the day, Ars Moriendi (Art of Dying). The print was particularly daring in its foreshortened view of the Virgin's bed, and the attention paid to to the rendition of the candlestick in the foreground is a reminder of Schongauer's background as the son of a famous goldsmith. For a similar picture, see that sold at Christie's, London, 29 October 2003, lot 46.