With one arm akimbo and a penetrating, forthright stare, this dashing young man with his wide-brimmed hat exudes confidence and strength. His erect stance as well as the crisp, angular folds of his black satin cloak heighten the impression that he was a man of purpose. The portrait's strength also emanates from the artist's bold execution—the paint was applied thickly and with great verve and assurance. The composition, with the unknown sitter before a dark, almost black drapery pulled back to reveal the orange-red glow of an evening landscape, is extremely evocative, indicating that the artist was of the highest rank.
Various 17th-century masters have been linked to the portrait, among them Diego Velázquez (1599–1660), Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), and Jacob Jordaens (1593–1678), though none of these attributions is fully convincing. The Flemish artist Jan Cossiers (1600–1671 is also a possibility. Having trained with Cornelis de Vos (c. 1584/1585–1651), he would have had a solid foundation in portraiture. Notably, his manner of accenting the eyes in his drawings of children resembles that in the portrait at the Gallery. The style of the sitter's costume offers a dating in the mid-1630s. Prior to that time, doublets were tightly buttoned from collar to waist and fastened to the breeches with ties around the waist. Around 1630 styles changed and shirts were shown at the waist of the open doublet, as seen in the Gallery's portrait. The sitter's beard, mustache, and hairstyle were also fashionable in the early 1630s.
Possibly Louis Philippe Joseph, duc d'Orléans [1723-1792], Paris; possibly George Kinnaird, 7th baron Kinnaird [d. 1805], Rossie Priory, Inchture, Perthshire, Scotland; his son, Charles Kinnaird, 8th baron Kinnaird [1780-1826], Rossie Priory, by 1809; (his sale, Phillips, London, February-March 1813, no. 85, as Portrait of a Spanish Nobleman by Velázquez, bought in); by inheritance to his son, George William Fox Kinnaird, 9th baron Kinnaird [1807-1878], Rossie Priory; by inheritance to his brother, Arthur Fitzgerald Kinnaird, 10th baron Kinnaird [1814-1887], Rossie Priory; by inheritance to his son, Arthur J. Fitzgerald Kinnaird, 11th baron Kinnaird [1847-1923], Rossie Priory; by inheritance to his son, Kenneth Fitzgerald Kinnaird, 12th baron Kinnaird [1880-1972], Rossie Priory; by gift or inheritance to his eldest son, Graham Charles Kinnaird, Master of Kinnaird [later 13th baron Kinnaird, 1912-1997], Rossie Priory; purchased 13 May 1969 through (P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., London) by NGA.
- Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters. Winter Exhibition, Royal Academy of Art, London, 1879, no. 60, as Portrait of a Man, said to be General Velazquez by Rubens.
- Exhibition of 17th Century Art in Europe, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1938, no. 92, as by Rubens.
- Jacob Jordaens 1593-1678, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1968-1969, no. 36, repro.
- In Memoriam, Ailsa Mellon Bruce, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1969, unnumbered checklist.
- Smith, John. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters. 9 vols. London, 1829-1842: 3(1930): 223, no. 793, as by Rubens.
- Waagen, Gustav Friedrich. Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain: Being an Account of more than Forty Collections of Paintings, Drawings, Sculptures, Mss., &c.&c., visited in 1854 and 1856, ..., forming a supplemental volume to the "Treasures of Art in Great Britain". London, 1857: 447, as by Rubens.
- Curtis, Charles B. Velazquez and Murillo. New York and London, 1883: 84, under no. 206, as by Rubens.
- Rooses 1896-1892, 4(1890): 315-316, no. 1143, and 322, as by Rubens.
- Mayer, August L. "Some Notes on Recent Exhibitions." The Burlington Magazine 72 (April 1938): 190, as by Jan Cossiers.
- d'Hulst, Roger-A.. "Jordaens" (exhibition review). The Art Bulletin LI (1969):382, as not by Jordaens
- Jaffé, Michael. "Some Recent Acquisitions of Seventeenth-Century Flemish Painting." Studies in the History of Art 1969 (1970): 23-26, 33 note 52, repro., as by Jordaens.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 182, repro., as by Jordaens.
- Larsen, Erik. "New Suggestions Concerning George Jamesone." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 94 (July-August 1979): 9-18, as by George Jamesone.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 259, no. 330, color repro., as by Jordaens.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 211, repro., as by Jordaens.
- Barnes, Susan J. "Van Dyck in Italy 1621-1628." 2 vols. Ph.D. dissertation, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 1986: 1:78 notes 44, 46; 2:99, repro., as by Jordaens.
- Bauman, Guy C., and Walter A. Liedtke. Flemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Fleming Paintings in the Public Collections of America. Antwerp, 1992: 345, no. 301, repro., as by Jordaens.
- Sutten, Peter C., and Marjorie E. Wieseman, et al. The Age of Rubens Exh. cat. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art. Boston, 1993: 348, repro., as by Jordaens.
- Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Flemish Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 2005: 103-107, color repro.