The face, seen in profile, is depicted without idealization, with the pronounced and irregular features, wrinkles and slightly greying hair. The man wears a rich gown, probably full-length, trimmed with fur, inspired to a Middle-eastern style and known as a “Turkish robe”.
The sitter has been identified as Giovanni Francesco Brivio, a member of a noble Milanese family, who in the last two decades of the fifteenth century held important administrative and financial offices at the court of Milan. The painting dates from around 1495, when Brivio was about forty years old and at the height of his public career. At this time he held the office of magistrate of the ordinary revenues of the Sforza dukedom.
The dark ground and the meticulous naturalistic rendering of physiognomic details derive from Flemish models, perhaps filtered through the work of Mantegna.