This artist, who was active in Tuscany from 1505 to 1530, has only recently been identified (Waldman 1998), thanks to the rediscovery of documents relating to the payment of the Nativity, dated 1523, in the Collegiata of Fucecchio. It was Federico Zeri (1962, p. 216 ff.) who discovered the papers, describing his artistic personality and grouping a number of works together under the name “Master of the Kress Landscapes”. The name derives from the three small landscapes in the National Gallery, Washington, dated by Zeri c. 1515, that came from the Casa Niccolini, Florence, in which the landscape style is clearly based on Hellenistic prototypes such as the Domus Aurea of Hadrian’s Villa. The landscape, as in the present picture, is handled with a feathery touch, there is great variety in the vegetation, and the influence of Dürer’s wood-cuts is discernible.
The present picture, whose attribution has been confirmed independently by Everett Fahy, Mina Gregori and Federico Zeri, shares a number of stylistic and morphological characteristics with his other known works. The divided composition with an interior space to the left and a distant landscape to the right is very similar to that found in the Holy Family in the Galleria Borghese where the pose of the Virgin’s left hand clasping the Christ Child compares closely with that in the present picture.