The painting is mentioned in the Corsini inventory of 1679 as one of the objects received from the inheritance of Cardinal Neri Corsini, in the villa of San Pancrazio, and described as “a canvas painting, measuring 7.5 spans, representing the tribute paid by our Lord Jesus Christ, with 4 figures” without mentioning the name of the artist (Papini 1998). There are more than four figures in this painting but the inventory certainly refers to this work (Alloisi 1999).
The theme of the payment of the tribute by Peter for the maintenance of the temple, using the silver coin miraculously found in the fish he had just caught, is recurrent in Mattia Preti’s first period in Rome.
The episode takes place in an interior, with the figures gathered around the table — the only indication of the room in a manner which, with its simplified composition and earthy tones, recalls previous works. The most immediate similarities can be found in versions of the same subject in the Brera and the Galleria Doria Pamphili, which show very clear similarities in the types of characters, such as the Christ and the apostles. The painter did indeed make frequent recourse to his own repertoire of pictures and, even years later and with a different stylistic approach, he used to repeat his own inventions.