The sitter, portrayed with a lute, is Baldassare Donato (1525/1530- 1603). Donato was a composer and a singer who lived in Venice. He made an important contribution to Italian music in the sixteenth century, and he is most celebrated for his light secular works, although he did compose several state ceremonial and ecclesiastical pieces. In 1590 he was named maestro di cappella of Saint Mark's and directed music there until his death. Musicians were a favorite subject for many Venetian portrait painters, underscoring the importance of all of the arts in sixteenth century Italy.