This picture was brought from Paris by the engraver Thomas Major when he moved to London in 1772. He subsequently sold it to the Duchess of Bridgewater as an autograph work by Murillo, where it remained as such until her sale at Christie's in 1778. A repetition of this particular canvas was executed by Thomas Gainsborough after viewing it firsthand at the Bridgewater sale, which was in turn sold from his collection on 3 March 1789, lot 50 (as "The Good Shepherd, painted from Memory, after having seen the Original, by Murillo, in the possession of the Duke of Bridgewater (copy by T. Gainsborough after Murillo)". The attribution to Murillo remained with the present picture until 1802, when it was compared with the undeniably autograph version, now in the George Lane collection. It has since been included in all pertinent literature as a work by Alexis Grimoux (see Literature), the probable student of François de Troy, though this attribution would appear speculative and in no way definitive.
J. Britton, Catalogue Raisonnè of the Pictures Belonging to the Most Honorable The Marquis of Stafford in the Gallery of Cleveland House, London 1808, cat. no. 4, pp. 6-7 (as by Grimoux);
J. Dallaway, Account of Pictures Exhibited at the British Institution 1813-23; London 1824, p. 126, under no. 5 (as by Grimoux);
C.B. Curtis, Velazquez and Murillo, London 1883, p. 185, under no. 167 (as by Grimoux);
Jameson, Companion to the Most Celebrated Private Galleries of Art in London, London 1844, p. 110, no. 64 (as by Alexis Grimoux);
"Remarkable Copies and Drawings" , in The Magazine of Art, vol. IV, 1881, p.452 (as by Grimoux);
C. Gabillot, "Alexis Grimou: Peintre Français (1678-1733)", in Gazette des Beaux-Arts, Paris 1911, p. 56;
M. L. Dimier, Les Peintres Français du XVII Siècle: Histoire des Vies et Catalogue des Oeuvres, Paris and Brussels 1930, p. 213, no. 92 (as by Grimoux);
E.K. Waterhouse, "Gainsborough's Fancy Pictures", in Burlington Magazine, vol. 88, no. 519, June 1946, p. 137 (as by Grimoux);
E. Waterhouse, Gainsborough, London 1958, p. 125 (as by Grimou);
D. A. íñiguez, Murillo, vol. II, Madrid 1981, p. 188, under no. 204 (as by Grimoux);
E. Harris, "Velázquez and Murillo in Nineteenth-Century Britian. An Approach Through Prints", in Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol. 50, 1987, p. 157 (as by Alexis Grimoux).