Mattia Preti was an admirer of Caravaggio, which is clearly reflected in his work. In 1630 he went to Rome, where he could study the works of Guercino, Rubens, Guido Reni and Giovanni Lanfranco. He traveled throughout Italy and spent the end of his life in Malta. His paintings enjoyed great interest throughout Europe.
The canvases present two old men, perhaps depictions of two apostles, however no identifying attributes are apparent. The older man with a white beard could be St. Peter or St. Simon, the younger St. Paul or St. Bartholomew.
(expert opinion: Alessandro Delpriori, PhD, Università di Firenze)