This impressive portrait has been attributed to the early career of Andrea Previtali, a painter from the Bergamo area called Cordeliaghi because he was the son of a dealer in threads (corde) and needles (aghi). The artist trained in Giovanni Bellini’s Venetian workshop, at a time when the influence of Antonello da Messina was still dominant, as clear in this painting.
On the back a Latin inscription (“This is the beauty, this the form that remains. This law is the same for all.”) and a skull, warn against the vanity of earthly beauty; almost a counterpoint to the intense vitality of the gaze of the man on the front.
The panel, datable to about 1502, was originally set in a frame which probably rested on a rotating support, as indicated by the fact that the skull is upside down in relation to the portrait.