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Workshop of Marinus van Reymerswale, Two Tax-Gatherers

Key facts
Full title Two Tax-Gatherers
Artist Workshop of Marinus van Reymerswale
Artist dates active 1533 - 1545
Date made probably 1540s
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 92 × 74.6 cm
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG944
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Two Tax-Gatherers
Workshop of Marinus van Reymerswale

Two strikingly ugly men in extraordinary clothing are seated at a table in a panelled interior. One writes in a ledger, the other – his features contorted into a sneer – grasps at a pile of coins. Documents, some of them legible, are piled on a cupboard behind the pair.

Marinus van Reymerswale and his workshop produced a number of versions of this very successful composition; many include manuscripts and legal documents that contain references to the town and inhabitants of Reymerswale, where Marinus probably spent much of his life.

All are satires of greed and corruption, and they might even have contained recognisable caricatures of officials from Reymerswale. Tax collectors were paid percentages of the revenues they collected, and had many incentives to extort every last mite from taxpayers. The two men, hideous in spite of their rich clothes, are vilified for their bureaucratic and legalistic greed.

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