The present picture is a variant of the central portion of a horizontal composition of the subject by Floris, known in three versions. In his catalogue raisonné on Floris, Van de Velde lists a version on panel in Old Economy Village, Ambridge, Pennsylvania, as a studio work, and a second, also on panel, as of uncertain status (present location unknown; see C. Van de Velde, Frans Floris (1519/20-1570), Brussels, 1975, I, pp. 191-192, nos. 41-42). A third version, considered by Van de Velde to be fully autograph, is a canvas formerly with Richard L. Feigen & Co., New York.
The present picture appears in part attributable to the artist's studio; however, the fine quality of many passages and numerous pentimenti suggest that Floris himself participated in its execution. The collector's mark of Charles I on the verso of the panel testifies to an illustrious history (fig. 1). No painting by Floris is cited in Van der Doort's 1639 catalogue of the King's collection (see O. Millar, ed., 'Abraham van der Doort's catalogue', The Walpole Society 1958-60, XXXVII, 1960). However, the present picture may well be that listed as no. 228 in the inventory of pictures at Hampton Court drawn up on 3-5 October 1649 as 'Christ Calling the Children to him,' which was sold to B. Baker on 1 February 1652/53 for £20 (O. Millar, 1972, op. cit., pp. 186, 203).