Hans Mielich was the leading painter in Bavaria in the mid-sixteenth century. His art was greatly influenced by Albrecht Altdorfer with whom he worked in Regensburg from about 1536 to 1538. After a trip to Rome in 1542, Mielich settled in his native Munich, becoming court painter to Albrecht V, the Duke of Bavaria.
This sitter's identification with the Fröchl family derives from the presence of their coat-of-arms painted on the reverse of the panel. The man might Jakob Fröschl of Wasserburg. A grain merchant and city councilor in Wasserburg, he married in 1539, and thus this may be his wedding portrait.
The sitter's large scale, dignified bearing, and richly decorated padded black jacket all suggest someone of great power and importance. In the background, visible through the wood-trimmed window, is a landscape with trees, a house, and a man and a horse plowing. Clearly, the man was a substantial landowner as well.
Beyond its representational fascination, the portrait is a wonderful study in the abstract interplay of pattern, form, and outline. The massive, simple expanse of the black jacket contrasts with the intricately marbleized decor of the wall which, in turn, mimics the irregular configurations of the trees.
More information on this painting can be found in the Gallery publication German Paintings of the Fifteenth through Seventeenth Centuries, which is available as a free PDF https://www.nga.gov/content/dam/ngaweb/research/publications/pdfs/german-painting-fifteenth-through-seventeenth-centuries.pdf
center reverse coat-of-arms: (gules, a powert sejant-erect); lower center reverse: E.G.V.[?]Z.
John Rushout, 2nd baron Northwick [1769-1859], Thirlestane House, Cheltenham, possibly by the early nineteenth century; (Thirlestane House sale conducted by Phillips, 26 July - 30 August 1859, no. 134, as by Amberger). Alfred Morrison [1821- 1897], London and Fonthill House, Tisbury, Wiltshire, by 1887; by inheritance to his son, Hugh Morrison [d. 1931], Fonthill House, Tisbury, Wiltshire and Islay House, Argyll; by inheritance to his son, John Granville Morrison, 1st baron Margadale, Fonthill House and Islay House; (sale, Christie's, London, 18 April 1980, no. 87). (P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., Ltd., New York, owned jointly with Artemis/David Carritt Limited, London), by 1983; purchased November 1984 by NGA.
- Art Treasures of the West Country, British Museum Art Gallery, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, 1937, no. 195, as by Christopher Amberger.
- German Art 1400-1800 from Collections in Great Britain, City of Manchester Art Gallery, 1961, no. 101, as by Christopher Amberger.
- The Northern Renaissance, 15th and 16th Century Netherlandish Paintings, Colnaghi, New York, no. 10.
- Constable, William George. "Art Treasures of the West Country at Bristol." The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 71, no. 412 (July 1937): 42.
- Löcher, Kurt. "Studien zur oberdeutschen Bildnismalerei des 16. Jahrhunderts." Jahrbuch der Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen in Baden-Württemberg 4 (1967): 75-76, fig. 52.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 289, repro.
- Dülberg, Angelica. Privatporträts--Geschichte und Ikonologie einer Gattung im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert. Berlin, 1990: 109, 200, no. 82, pl. 225, fig. 576.
- Hall, Nicholas H. J., ed. Colnaghi in America: A Survey to Commemorate the First Decade of Colnaghi, New York. New York, 1992: 134.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 69, repro.
- Hand, John Oliver, with the assistance of Sally E. Mansfield. German Paintings of the Fifteenth through Seventeenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1993: 146-151, repro., color repro.
- Löcher, Kurt. Review of German Paintings of the Fifteenth through Seventeenth Centuries, by John Oliver Hand with the assistance of Sally E. Mansfield. Kunstchronik 43, no. 1 (Januar 1995): 18.
- Bénézit, Emmanuel. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs et graveurs. Nouvelle ed. 14 vols. Paris, 1999: 9:935.
- Löcher, Kurt. Hans Mielich (1516-1573), Bildnismaler in München. Munich, 2002: 43-46, 124, 209-210, no. 9, color fig. 12, fig. 85.
- Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 141, no. 109, color repro.
- Kranz, Annette. Christoph Amberger, Bildnismaler zu Augsburg. Regensburg, 2004: 415-416, no. X.76, repro.
The painting is composed of two boards joined vertically along a slight diagonal. There is a convex warp in the panel of approximately 1 cm at its highest point. The panel appears to have split along the upper and lower ends of the join and the disjoins have been repaired by regluing and by gluing a wooden spline to the reverse of the join. Underdrawing applied with a brush in the landscape and the sitter's hands is visible in infrared photographs; the underdrawing of the proper right hand extends onto the ground of the unpainted lower ledge.
The painting is in very good condition and appears to have been restored shortly before its acquisition by the National Gallery. There are minor inpainted losses along the top and bottom of the join, and very small areas of abrasion and loss in and around the hands. There are some pinpoint inpainted losses in the background, especially in the window frame and along the edges of the painting.
The paint on the reverse is more directly painted with a dry, sketchy technique, and underdrawing is not evident here. The reverse has suffered scattered losses, and along the edges an area of paint approximately 5 cm wide has been abraded or damaged. Along the join the paint and ground have been sanded away to prepare the area for the reinforcing spline.
 The wood was identified by Peter Klein, examination report, 29 September 1987, in NGA curatorial files, and by the National Gallery's scientific research department.