The painting, coming from the Farnese collection, was previously part of the assets of the Sanseverino family of Parma who, in 1612, were sentenced to death and confiscation of their assets for a conspiracy against Ranuccio I Farnese, Duke of Parma and Piacenza.
During the Neapolitan revolutionary uprisings of 1799, the panel appears in the list of works seized by the French. Recovered by the Bourbon troops, it was transferred to the Royal Palace of Francavilla in Chiaia (current Cellammare palace). In 1874 it was inventoried in the Royal Palace.
The painting of the Royal Palace is one of the many versions of the subject of the “misers” made by the artist. Among the most famous are those of the Prado (1538), of Munich, Warsaw, and that of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.
More than a portrait, the painting can be defined as a kind of scene of moral content, in which two tax collectors, or rather, a treasurer and his employee, the tax collector, are portrayed, showing an opposite attitude towards money that they administer: one serious and objective, the other rapacious in physiognomy and gesture. The author, as can be seen in the work, was a lover of curious and bizarre details, and was the creator of a series of portraits of characters at work, represented at the limit of the caricature.