From Venice during the last year of his stay in Italy 1837-1839, Richmond wrote a long letter to Joseph Severn, summing up his artistic experiences. Close to the end of the letter he recollects a visit to a Gallery, he writes; I made a number of little sketches while I stayed, just taking the plan of some of the finest works, and I shall do this wherever I go, Since I came here I have made ten watercolours of the best pictures in the Belle Arti, which I think will be of use to me. I am sure you are right in recommending a sketch whenever it may be got, for it remains, while mere impressions are fugitive as the day. What rascally cheats these Venetians are, and yet very good people in their way, wonderfully civil, and at the Galleries (oh! what a contrast to Rome) they are perfection.
The painting by Basaiti came from the church of San Giobbe, the altarpiece was commissioned by the Foscari family as a funeral. The Gospel episode of the prayer in the garden is depicted in the background immersed in an almost Giorgione-like landscape: Christ in prayer is kneeling on the top of a rock while Peter, James and John sleep at the foot of the hill. The scene is framed by a cross-shaped covered architectural space in which four full-length saints meditate silently.
In 1815 with the Napoleonic suppressions the painting was moved from the church of San Giobbe to the Gallerie Accademia in Venice. Since the painting was moved it has been on view to the public.