As the traditional identification of this striking portrait as of a senator of Antwerp implies, this has been recognised since the eighteenth century as a work that antedated the artist's arrival in England in 1632, Fairfax Murray followed by Cust and Schaeffler going so far as to place it in the Italian period, and thus before 1627. Glück, Larsen and Vey all considered that the picture is of the second Antwerp period, and thus of 1627-32. But in its subtlety and sophistication this unquestionably reflects van Dyck's experience of Italy, and, above all, in the masterly handling of the patterned robe, his lifelong study of the work of Titian, so many works by whom were in his personal collection. While the characterisation of the head recalls some portraits of the Italian period, for example Lucas van Uffel (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Barnes, op. cit., no. II.70), probably of 1623 when van Dyck was in Venice, the pose, and in particular the arrangement of the arms and hands, anticipates, but in reverse, the celebrated full-length of the Abbé Scaglia (London, National Gallery; Vey, op. cit., no. III.126), in which the sitter also leans on the base of a column and a similar white collar serves to set off the sumptuous black costume. From the outset of his career van Dyck had been interested in the artistic possibilities of black materials. Even in the first Antwerp period he exploited the textures of silk patterns in imitation of slashes, as in the portraits in the Liechtenstein Collection and at Brunswick (N. de Poorter, in Barnes, op. cit., nos. I.132-3); later examples include portraits at Dresden and Munich (Vey, op. cit., nos. III.174 and 180).