The artist known as the Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds was a Spanish painter who has been associated with a group of paintings of high quality recalling Jusepe de Ribera in their expressive and dynamic brushwork. The anonymous painter, like Ribera, favored humble subjects, which were depicted in a harshly realistic - though not unsympathetic - light. His palette is somber and his compositions are dramatically tenebrist, with the paint applied in rich impasto. His powerful influence on Neapolitan realism, however, has not led to an identification, though art historians have suggested such possibilities as Bartolomeo Bassante, Giovanni Do and Nunzio Rossi.
In a 1983 article on the topic of Duns Scotus, a painting traditionally attributed to Ribera at Hampton Court, Giuseppe de Vito explores its association with works by the Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds, and sheds light on new findings about this artist (G. de Vito, 'The Author of the Duns Scotus at Hampton Court', Burlington Magazine, 968, November 1983, pp. 685-7, fig. 45). De Vito draws a comparison between the figure of the philosopher in the Hampton Court painting and the central figure in Christ among the Doctors (Powerscourt, Dublin), a painting formerly attributed to Caravaggio. He points out that the Powerscourt picture is almost identical to a painting of the same subject in Naples (Museo di Capodimonte), which was most recently ascribed to the Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds by Raffaello Causa. De Vito goes on to suggest a connection between the Naples painting and a rendering of a single figure in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, the Man in Meditation. The addition of this painting to the group is significant as it so closely resembles the present painting, strengthening the attribution to the Master of the Annunciation to the Shepherds.