This elegantly attired sitter's identity is a mystery, but, in light of the painting's Florentine provenance, he was almost certainly a Florentine gentleman of high standing. He looks out toward the viewer and holds a letter, perhaps a note of introduction, in his left hand. His formal pose is reminiscent of antique statues, and a sense of movement is implied by the way his body twists to the left while his head turns to the right.
Salviati effectively captured the different tactile qualities of the various fabrics: the green curtains have a velvety richness, and the gentleman's black silk vest is distinguished from its dark velvet trim and purple slashed silk sleeves. Individual strands of hair can be detected in the man's meticulously painted beard, mustache, and hair. The affected gesture, confident posture, and strident colors of this portrait are characteristic of mid-sixteenth century Mannerism.