We are grateful to Dr. Kurt Löcher for his assistance in cataloguing this lot. Dr. Löcher notes that the portrait should be dated to circa 1520 by the style of the beret with slashed brim and collarless shirt, while the gold chains, the gold head-piece and the gold jewel on the beret with the initials 'IM' make it likely that the sitter was a member of the aristocracy. This type of short bust-length portrait against a blue background relates strongly to the work of Hans Maler (although Maler himself favoured a light blue, becoming gradually lighter towards the bottom); however, the slightly idealised features that emphasize the structure of the face are uncharacteristic of Northern German portraiture of the period. The area around the neck, with the border of the shirt and the chain recalls the work of Hans Holbein the Younger, in portraits such as those of the Basel Burgomaster, Jacob Meyer, and his wife of 1516, suggesting the possibility that the artist was Swiss in origin, possibly from near the border with France. In that region it is entirely plausible that he would have been familiar with, and influenced by, the work of artists such as Maler, but could still display the more idealistic treatment common amongst French portraits of the period.
The old inscription on the reverse would seem to indicate that the sitter's name was Jacobus Rimmel of Basel. That location would fit well with the artistic style of the painting, however the initials on the sitter's brooch and that repeatedly embroidered in the pattern on the border of his shirt would seem to indicate that it is mistaken. The partly legible phrase 'eques auratus' may suggest that the sitter was a Knight of the Golden Fleece.