This bold portrait is of an unknown sitter. The fur collar, the jewel on the cap and the heavy gold chains indicate that he was a man of some wealth. The two badges on the chain can be identified and suggest that he may have been a Swabian and was probably of noble birth.
At the bottom of the portrait the top of his puffed white sleeve is just visible. It is probable that the picture has been cut down, and originally showed more of the arm.
Baldung is thought to have worked in Albrecht Dürer's workshop; his portraits tend to be less psychologically penetrating than Dürer's. In this work visual display is emphasised. The sweeping lines of hair and curling beard are set off by the flat expanse of face and shirt. The whole is electrified by the bold background colour. The badge showing the Virgin and Child is that of the Order of Our Lady of the Swan. This confraternity, founded by the Elector Frederick II of Brandenburg, admitted only those of noble birth.
The other badge belongs to the Fish and Falcon jousting company of Swabia, a knightly organisation.
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