Giorgio Vasari made these two studies as side panels for a tripartite painting in the ceiling of a Naples monastery. The central panel is now lost, though scholars believe that it depicted the Feast in the House of Simon, the New Testament event at which Mary Magdalene anointed Christ while Judas prepared to betray him.
Vasari depicted the figures in Roman attire so viewers in the 1500s would understand that the painting tells a Biblical story. The entertaining spectacle of waiters serving food and drink illustrates Vasari's use of religious motifs to draw scenes of everyday life. On the left a bearded man fills a glass, surrounded by vases in various fantastic forms, while on the right two young men rush plates of steaming food to the table.