This is not the first work that can be seen in Flemish painting from the 15th and 16th centuries dedicated to this subject. In fact, before Marinus, this theme of a couple of money changers was already painted by Quentin Metsys, whose work can now be seen in the museum of the Louvre de Paris. And possibly I painted this theme before Jan Van Eyck.
The moneychanger and his wife from Marinus
This other panel painted in oil is later, from the year 1539, and is part of the collection of flamenco art held by the Prado Museum in Madrid.
This is a work by Claeszon van Reymerswaele, better known simply as Marinus. Very little is known about this painter, even the specific dates of his birth and death are unknown, although it is estimated that he lived between approximately 1495 and 1566 or 1567.
But if there is evidence that he painted this theme several times throughout his life, and always giving it the same tone of social criticism that he had createdMetsys. Although, Metsys opts for a somewhat more tragicomic tone, and surely in the case of Marinus, his images are much harsher and he is quite vicious with this guild of moneylenders, with their greed and their evil arts, something that above all reflects in the expressions, gestures and faces of the characters.
In thissense, there is nothing more to do than see the action that these two usurers are carrying out, which is nothing more than checking that each of their coins weighs the correct amount. Perhaps due to this type of stark and accusing portraits, it achieved great success among a large part of the population, which really suffered from the usury of moneychangers and moneylenders, and this led him to make numerous replicas and variants.
In this sense he also painted on different occasions another theme closely linked to this, and it is The tax collectors, whose best-known version is found in theNational Gallery London, although there are many other variations on the theme.
Although he not only dedicated himself to this type of genre images and critical or satirical tone, he was also a painter who made different works of a religious nature, such as his painting dedicated to the Vocation of Saint Mateo from the Thyssen Bornemisza collection. although, perhaps it is not by chance that Saint Matthew was a character who worked as a tax collector before becoming an apostle.