This work and 'A Female Figure standing in a Niche' are the outer and inner faces of the right shutter of an altarpiece. No other elements of this altarpiece are known. The female figure may represent the Virgin Mary or another holy woman.
According to legend, Saint Luke painted the Virgin and Child and he is therefore often depicted at an easel or with brushes and palette in hand. The theme was especially popular with Netherlandish painters of the 15th and 16th centuries.