The subject of this painting is taken from the New Testament (John: 11). At the request of the sisters Martha and Mary, Jesus visits the grave of their brother Lazarus and raises him from the dead.
This work was painted for Cardinal Giulio de' Medici in Rome in competition with Raphael's 'Transfiguration', now in the Vatican Gallery. It was subsequently taken to the Cathedral of Narbonne, the see of the patron. Some of the main figures are based on drawings which Michelangelo supplied for the guidance of Sebastiano.
The painting was purchased from the Angerstein collection.