The painting is inscribed and dated 1665 on the panel beneath the coat of arms. Don Justino de Neve was a canon of Seville Cathedral and a close friend of Murillo. He was instrumental in commissioning two of Murillo's celebrated series of church decorations, those of S. Maria la Blanca (1662/5) and those for the Hospital of the Venerable Sacerdotes (1670s), the foundation to which the portrait was left on Don Justino's death in 1685.
The painting was considered a masterpiece among Murillo's comparatively rare portraits by early writers on the artist, who singled out for praise the dog to the right, which directs attention to his master. In its relative austerity the design recalls Roman ecclesiastical portraits.