Vittorio Amadeo (1587-1637) and Emanuele Filiberto (1588-1624) were the sons of Duke Carlo Emanuele I, Duke of Savoy (1562-1630), who ruled over his duchy from 1580 to 1630. By his marriage to Infanta Catalina Micaela, the daughter of Philip II, King of Spain, he had gained a lot of influence. Accordingly, he re-organized his residence and his capital, Turin, and strategically started patronizing the arts. This patronage was highly programmatic, aimed at providing a suitable setting for his court. Vittorio Amadeo would eventually follow in his father's footsteps, both as ruler of the duchy and as prolific collector of works of art. His brother Emanuele Filiberto would be nominated Viceroy of Sicily by his cousin, king Philip III of Spain, and was to invite the young Anthony van Dyck to Sicily in 1624, who also painted his portrait.
The Dutch artist Jan Kraeck, or Giovanni Caracca, was appointed court painter to the Savoy in Turin in 1568 and stayed in function until his death in 1607. He mastered the international court style in portraiture popularized by the court painter of Philip II in Madrid, Antonis Mor. Kraeck's many portraits of the members of the Savoy family were instrumental in Carlo Emanuele I's ambitions to advance the fortunes of his dynasty.
We are grateful to Maria Kusche for confirming the attribution, on the basis of photographs (written communication, 13 October 2010).