The composition is thought ultimately to derive from a lost half-length Banker and Client by Jan van Eyck of 1440, recorded by Marcantonio Michiel in the collection of Camillo and Nicolò Lampognano in 1530, that was probably commissioned by Italian financiers working in Bruges. It seems that Van Eyck's composition was adapted by Quinten Metsys in two works: the Banker and his Wife of 1514 in the Louvre, Paris. It has been hypothesized that the present work and the many other known examples of its compositional type (at least sixty are recorded, including that in the British Royal Collection, Hampton Court) were in turn based upon a second, lost, derviation of Metsys' that was in turn adapted by Marinus van Reymerswaele for such works as the example in the National Gallery, London.
More recently, however, Lorne Campbell has convincingly argued (The Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen. The Early Flemish Pictures, Cambridge, 1985, pp. 114-8) that these all derive from adaptions by Reymerswaele of Metsys' work, for example that recorded by Van Mander in a Middelburg collection ('eenen Tollenaer sittende in zijn Contoor wesende wel geordineert en fray ghedaen'; fol. 261v). The introduction of Metys' name to the present compositional type he suggests is a later, probably mid- to late-17th Century, conflation of early attributions to Jan Massys (e.g. Van Mander's description of a painting by the latter depicting 'Wisselaers die doende zijn met gelt tellen en wisselen'; fol. 216) and the resemblance to the work by the more illustrious Quinten.
Of the various stages in the composition's derivation from the National Gallery type listed by Campbell (loc. cit.), the present picture can be included amongst those of his type H, closely resembling the Hampton Court picture, but omitting the parrot behind the front figure; other examples of this type include the pictures in the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Geneva (1910-1931); that in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nancy; and that in the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence.