The subject of this painting is taken from the New Testament. The Pharisees ask Christ whether it is right to pay tax to the Romans. Christ, sensing the trap, asks whose likeness and name are on the coinage: 'They say unto him, Caesar's. Then he saith unto them, render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's' (Matthew 22; Mark 12, Luke 20).
This painting was probably painted for King Philip II and sent to Spain in 1568.