This late portrait by Moroni is exceptional in its concentration and austerity, and for the unusual tilt and angle of the head. The head and hands are painted, like the letter itself, with the rapid and economical handling that characterises the late works of the painter.
The sitter has not been identified. He was once described as a lawyer on the basis that the contraction 'Magº' should be read as Magistrato (Magistrate). Suggestions for the place name at the end of the inscription have included the following north Italian towns: Rovato, Rovetta, Roncola, Rancia and Romano.