The evangelists St. Matthew and St. John stand against a gold background, which is unusual for a painting of this late date. In contrast, the Virgin and Child are seated in a classical niche. With inkwell in hand, the graying St. Matthew presents his gospel to the newborn Jesus as if seeking validation. The Christ Child appears to follow the text with his hands while signaling approval with his expression.
This painting was first discovered in a private collection in Florence in 1943. The Italian Republic purchased it in 2010 and then gave it to the Museo di Capodimonte. While painted by Sabatini, the Milanese artist Cesare da Sesto likely designed the evangelists and the baby Jesus. De Sesto played a decisive role in making Sabatini the preeminent southern interpreter of northern Italian artistic developments.