The painting perhaps shows a mathematician; it is likely that the inscription has been incorrectly repainted and should read 'Elementum' or 'Elementa' - a book of the elements of mathematics. The paper beneath the book (now rubbed) suggests an astronomical work, a field of study connected with mathematics.
The picture is likely to be by a North Italian artist, possibly one active in Bologna, and presumably dates from the period 1600-50.
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