The group of works traditionally given to the Master of the Female Half-Lengths are now perceived to be in large part the product of a workshop, specializing particularly in small-scale panels of aristocratic young ladies in half-length and devotional scenes. They are shown reading, writing or playing musical instruments, usually in a wood-panelled interior or against a neutral background; some of the women are represented with an ointment jar, the attribute of Mary Magdalene. The workshop also produced a group of landscapes that clearly show the influence of Joachim Patinir, with whose work they were for a long time confused, as well as a group of works depicting the Virgin and Child, to which the present picture may be added. Two features common to almost all of those latter, including the present work, are the turban-like arrangement of the Virgin's headdress and the small button that does up her tunic.
The place and period of the workshop's activity have been widely disputed: suggestions have ranged from Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent and Mechelen to the French court, with dates from the early - to the late-sixteenth century. Friedländer and Koch both placed it in Antwerp and Mechelen in the 1520s and 1530s, owing to the closeness of the landscapes to those of Joachim Patinir and the similarity of the female types to those of Barent van Orley - an influence that appears also in the present work (in comparison, for example, with the Polesden Lacy Virgin and Child by the latter). Koch believed that the central hand evident in the group may have been trained in Patinir's shop in Antwerp in circa 1520. This proposal has since been accepted by a number of writers, who have tried to identify the Master as responsible for the background landscapes of paintings by Antwerp artists such as Quinten Metsys (e.g. the Virgin and Child in a Landscape, in the National Museum, Poznan). At least one instance is known where the Master painted the landscape background for Jan Gossaert, in a Virgin and Child in the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio, that is dated 1532, representing the latest secure date for the group.