lower left on rock: IOSEPHVS CAESAR / ARPINAS
Spanish Royal Collection, Palacio Nuevo, Madrid, by 1772 until at least 1794. Private collection, France, until 1970. (P & D Colnaghi & Co., London, 1971). (sale, Sotheby's, London, 8 July 1981, no. 92). (Julius H. Weitzner [1896-1986], London), by 1983; purchased 1984 by NGA.
- Paintings by Old Masters, Colnaghi & Co., London, 1971, no. 12.
- Il Cavalier d'Arpino, Palazzo Venezia, Rome, 1973, no. 45, repro. (cat. by Herwarth Röttgen).
- "Notable Works of Art now on the Market, Advertisement Supplement." The Burlington Magazine 113 (1971): no. and pl. 18.
- Röttgen, Herwarth. Cavalier d'Arpino. Exh. cat. Palazzo Venezia, Rome, 1973: 41.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 78, repro.
- De Grazia, Diane, and Eric Garberson, with Edgar Peters Bowron, Peter M. Lukehart, and Mitchell Merling. Italian Paintings of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1996: 62-65, color repro. 63.
The support is a poplar (populus sp.) panel with the woodgrain oriented vertically. The 1.6 to 1.8 cm thick panel has not been thinned and retains scrub plane toolmarks on the reverse. Three butterfly cleats on the reverse of the panel, one of which has fallen out, were later reinforced by two flush, dovetailed battens spanning the width of the panel. Traces remain of two wider battens attached to the surface of the panel, in the same location as the dovetailed battens. The ground was applied thinly using a toothed or combing tool or a stiff brush, creating horizontal strokes. Where visible in the sky, the ground appears reddish in color, but it is not certain if this color was applied consistently under the entire image. The paint was applied with a variety of strokes and handling from thin glazes, as in the foliage, to relatively high impasto in the white and yellow highlights and in the Virgin's blue robe. Reserves were left for the figures, but much overlapping occurred and is now more evident where layers have become transparent, particularly in the center angel's wings and in Saint Peter's robe. Additional pentimenti appear in the three putti and the angel at the top, due to the positioning of their limbs and wings.
Several checks run from the top center and bottom edge. The slight abrasion is most visible in the sky. Scattered losses along the center split, in Saint Margaret's hair, along the bottom edge, in Saint Paul's robe and forehead, and in the central angel's frond and wreath have been recently inpainted. The slight abrasion is most noticeable in the sky. The varnish is clear and even. The painting has not been treated since acquisition.