This picture derives from Marinus van Reymerswaele's Two tax gatherers of circa 1540 in the Louvre, Paris (RF 1989-6), and in the National Gallery, London (NG 944). Marinus specialised in a narrow range of largely satirical subjects, mainly focusing on tax-collectors, money-changers and merchants. The popularity of his pictures is attested by the fact that many versions exist, including the present lot, which, unlike other versions, softens the grotesque element, instead giving the scene a slightly more scholarly slant. Very little is actually known about Marinus, or his workshop. Signed works by him date from 1535-45, and the inscriptions on the documents he depicted, when legible, often specifically relate to a once prosperous town called Reimerswaal, now under the water of the Ooster Schelde in Zeeland. The man on the left writing into the ledger wears a style of hat that was fashionable during the first half of the sixteenth century.