This charming and graceful portrait of a young boy by J.H.W. Tischbein is thought to depict Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (1772-1806), son of Prince August Ferdinand of Prussia and Queen Louise of Prussia (née von Brandenburg-Schwedt), and a nephew of King Frederick the Great. He grew up to become a talented pianist and composer - indeed Ludwig van Beethoven dedicated his third Piano Concerto to him - and was considered to be one of the most gifted Prussian soldiers of the era, whose life was cut short in action at the Battle of Saafeld in 1806 (see E. Klessmann, Louis Ferdinand von Preussen, 1772-1808, Munich 1972).
Very few portraits of Prince Louis Ferdinand as a young boy have been identified with certainty. Gerd Bartoschek, curator at the Stiftung Preussische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg, has noted (in a letter to the owner, dated 28 July 1998) the close similarity between the present portrait and the depiction of Louis Ferdinand in the Family of Prince August Ferdinand of 1777, also by Tischbein (private collection). Certainly this identification would work on stylistic grounds. Dr. Hermann Mildenberger, who confirms the attribution, has noted that this portrait is fully characteristic of Tischbein's oeuvre in the 1770s when he was hugely in demand as a portrait painter, establishing himself by 1777 as portrait painter to the Prussian court (letter to the owner, 10 April 1998). A decade later, Tischbein would paint one of the most remarkable portraits of the period, a painting of his friend, Goethe, reclining in a landscape, Goethe in the Roman Campagna (1787; Franfurt am Main, Städelsches Kunstinstitut).