The identity of the artist remains a subject of debate, and he has in the past been suggested by such scholars as Max Friedländer to be the youthful Jan van Hemessen. The majority of recent scholars however consider the most likely candidate to be Jan van Amstel (Amsterdam c. 1500-c. 1542 Antwerp), thought to have been the brother of Pieter Aertsen and married to the sister-in-law of Pieter Coecke van Aelst.
That hypothesis is based in part upon the monograms recorded on two of his works: that depicting The Feeding of the Poor in the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Brunswick, apparently composed of the interlocked letters J, v, A, M, S and L; and the Christ's Entry into Jerusalem in the Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, which is recorded as having formerly been similarly monogrammed as well as dated 1537. In addition, however, the Monogrammist's stylistic traits accord with Van Mander, who described Van Amstel as a landscapist who painted on very large panels, which sold well in the markets of Brabant and Flanders. He also described his unusual method of painting with a light wash so that the underlying ground colour showed through (apparently influential on Pieter Bruegel I): a technique that is commonly found in the Monogrammist's known oeuvre, including the present picture.
Some argue that the early descriptions of Jan as a landscape artist seem at odds with the figural emphasis in paintings by the Brunswick Monogrammist, although in 1753 Guarienti mentioned a large painting by 'Gio d'Amstel' of the Crucifixion, with more than 200 figures: a description that could be seen to fit with, for example, either of the paintings by the Monogramist in the Louvre, Paris, and the Kunstmuseum, Basel.
The compositions of both the latter works, and especially also the Stuttgart picture of the same subject, show clear links with the present painting with their arrangements of groups of figures clumped together before an extensive landscape. The slightly stocky figure types also correspond with the Monogrammist's other works, although they are unusual in their being clothed in antique costume, as opposed to the Monogrammist's habitual representations in contemporary dress. Given the lack of information about the Monogrammist and his working practices, it is hard to know whether this implies some degree of assistance in this painting, or perhaps an early or late stylistic development; both, however, should be taken into consideration for the attribution of this picture. The same hypotheses might also apply to the authorship of the eponymous painting given to the circle of Aertsen in M.B. Buchan, The paintings of Pieter Aertsen, diss. New York University, 1975, pp. 62-3, fig. 17.