Michel Sittow came from Estonia. He trained as a painter in Flanders, which was a major art centre in those days. This is one of the few paintings we know by Sittow, which he probably made in his hometown of Tallinn. He painted the man’s face in great detail, with delicate wrinkles and a light beard growth. The man’s hands are resting on the edge of the painting, giving it the appearance of a windowsill – a trick that Sittow learned in Bruges from Hans Memling.
Von Liphart family, Ratshof Castle, Tartu, Estonia, until 1918; Ernest, Baron von Liphart, Petrograd, 1918-1921; A.W. Volz, The Hague, 1921-1946; purchase made possible by the testamentary disposition of Mr Volz and with the support of the Rembrandt Association, 1946