This scene was once identified as Herod and the Three Magi (New Testament, Matthew 2: 7), but none of the figures is shown with a king's attributes of crown or sceptre. It is more likely to show saints or prophets in debate, which was a popular motif in Florentine art during the early 16th century.
With its bright colours, expansive drapery and dynamic poses, the painting is typical of the style of the Florentine Mannerist artist, Pontormo. Another version of this picture exists in Musee Magnin in Dijon. The present painting was originally painted on a wood panel, and has since been transferred to canvas.