Hess trained first in Basel with Maximilian Neustück, before travelling to Italy, where he lived between 1819 and 1823. Although primarily a genre painter, Hess is also known for his caricatures. The scene must have been inspired by Synagogues which Hess knew in Rome; other examples of his treatment of similar subjects include The Jews of Rome, in the Kunstmuseum, Basel (see Ausstellung Hieronymus Hess 1799-1850, exhibition catalogue, Basel, Kunstmuseum, 1949, cat. nos. 43, 43a, 66, and 67) and Reading from the Torah (with Galerie Bailly, Paris, 1989).