The two portraits were commissioned at the request of Archduke Ferdinand II of Tirol by Elector Augustus of Saxony in June 1578, along with five other paintings as pendants, from Lucas Cranach the Younger in Wittenberg. Earlier portraits studies by the Cranach workshop were probably used to depict the prince, who had died either thirty-one or twenty-four years earlier. They were intended to represent the transfer of the rank of elector that followed victory in the Battle of Mühlberg in 1547. For that reason, too, victorious Moritz was depicted in precious armor while his older but defeated cousin, John Frederick, was in simpler, old-fashioned armor. The portraits of the two opponents in armor were not transferred to Innsbruck but remained in Saxony for reasons unknown.