The 2ft 6in x 2ft 1in (76 x 64cm) oil on canvas, which is signed Jusepe de Ribera espagnol F/1638, is a mature work by the artist and depicts the repentant St Peter. The subject relates to an episode in the bible where, when Christ is arrested, the apostle denies knowing him three times. At this point a cockerel crows three times, recalling a prediction Christ made that Peter’s triple denial would take place.
The painting underwent restoration in the 1970s but the restorer preserved a wax seal which bears the arms of the Italian cardinal Flavio Chigi. The cardinal was born in 1631 so he would not have been the first owner of the work but may have possessed it by 1657 when he became a cardinal.
The painting has a 19th century provenance to the collection of Blaise Léon Rochette de Lempedes (1809-76) and has passed down by descent.