The artist positioned many of his subjects in this same pose - stood side on to the artist, looking over their left shoulder towards us. Light is used to add the hand and the face, with everything else being kept to an absolute minimum. He would have planned this approach prior to starting the artwork, choosing the black clothing and the similar backdrop. This artwork is now owned by the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna and, potentially, they may have a little more information available on it from their own original purchase.
The artist worked on a number of portraits during his career, finding this genre a handy way of building up additional finances as well as being able to fit them in around larger projects. For example, he could be directing others on a major mural piece whilst completing some of these smaller paintings himself. In terms of the balance of light and dark within this painting, we can almost imagine meeting this bearded gentleman in a dark corridor, perhaps lit by some fluttering candles. It is art like this that can take us back in time, instantly.
The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna is a fitting venue for this beautiful piece, with a host of other notable artists also featured within its walls. One of the most exciting elements to this gallery's collection would have to be the number of Pieter Bruegel artworks that can be found here, including some of his most famous paintings such as Tower of Babel, The Hunters in the Snow and The Peasant Dance. Besides that, you can also enjoy a number of originals from the likes of Caravaggio, Rubens and Vermeer, to name just a few.