The Latin inscription tells us the identity of this nobleman: Robert Cheseman, 48 years old in 1533. Cheseman was the chief falconer to the English king Henry VIII, an honourable position. He is stroking the bird on his hand with a tender gesture.
The German painter Hans Holbein painted this masterpiece shortly after he had settled for good in England. His amazing painting technique is shown to great advantage in the man’s intent gaze, in the shiny satin of his sleeves and in the little brass bell.