This unpublished drawing is related to a sheet in black chalk in a Swiss private collection (P. Rosenberg and L.-A. Prat, Nicolas Poussin 1594-1665. Catalogue raisonné des dessins, Milan, 1994, I, no. 333) which shows on its recto a very similar composition, but without the two angels represented on the left in the present work. The same buildings quickly sketched also appear in both drawings. Anthony Blunt had related the Swiss drawing to a few Holy Families by Poussin executed in the late 1640s and the early 1650s (The Drawings of Nicolas Poussin. Catalogue raisonné, London, 1974, V, no. 392-3). This dating seems to be confirmed by the style of both drawings which show a trembling line, typical of Poussin's later works when the artist suffered from a tremor in his hands. The present drawing can especially be compared to a study for the Holy Family on the steps in Dijon dating from circa 1646 (Rosenberg and Prat, op. cit., no. 313) and to a Holy Family in an interior with Saint Elisabeth and the young John the Baptist in the Hermitage, Saint Petersburg, dated to circa 1647-48 by Rosenberg and Prat (op. cit., no. 325).
An alternative attribution to Charles-Alphonse Dufresnoy (1611-1668) has also been suggested. The artist imitated Poussin's style in his paintings as well as in his drawings. The figure of a woman seated on the verso of the present drawing (visible by transparency as the sheet is laid down) is close to that of Venus in a painting by Dufresnoy formerly at Potsdam, and for which a few preparatory drawings exist (Rosenberg and Prat, op. cit., II, nos. R 193, R 214bis and R 736). However the execution of these preparatory drawings, which show unbroken lines and a somewhat uniform use of the brown wash, differs from that of the present work.