The anonymous artist is named after a painting of the Magdalen (Berlin, Gemäldegalerie), formerly in the collection of the Marchese Battista Mansi, Lucca, when it was wrongly attributed to Quinten Metsys; his precise identity remains uncertain, but Friedländer suggested that he may have been Willem Muelenbroec, who registered in the Antwerp painters' guild as a pupil of Metsys in 1501. Stylistically, the Master imitated the broad heads and long fingers of Metsys's figures, but the frontal poses (compare, for example, the Mansi Magdalen's head with that of the Holy Woman in the central background) and monochromatic colouring are characteristic of his own style found also in the present work. The Master's frequent use of Dürer's prints helps date his period of activity: a second Entombment (Ghent, Museum voor Schone Kunsten) is derived from Dürer's woodcut of the scene from the Small Passion of 1511; the fact that the Master also copied Italian prints, as in his Virgin and Child (Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza), based on an engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi suggests that he may possibly have known the former's work through the latter's copies.
Either way, the present composition seems also to have been ultimately inspired by Dürer, although the artist seems to have taken elements from two different compositions. Thus, the figure of Christ in this picture, his shoulder held up by the hand of Joseph of Arimathea under the winding-sheet, also comes from the Small Passion Entombment and is repeated in reverse, in the Master's Lamentation formerly in the Virnich collection, Bonn (M.J. Friedländer, Early Netherlandish Painting, VII, Leiden and Brussels, 1971, pl. 77, no. 91); the position here of Christ's Head, angled towards the viewer, seems to be a deviation from Dürer introduced by the Master and shared with the latter work (as well as repeated in Joos van Cleve's Lamentation altarpiece in the Städelsches Institut, Frankfurt. The figures of Saint John, the Virgin and Joseph of Arimathea, however, as well as the concept of the Magdalen kneeling in the front, her ointment jar beside her, seem to derive from the Lamentation from the same series. The vertical layout and angle of the tomb - necessitated by the panel's format, which suggests that the present work may have been the wing of an altarpiece - may also derive from the latter, although they do recall elements of the somewhat complicated composition of the Entombment from Dürer's Engraved Passion.