Formerly known simply as King of Denmark, this is probably a portrait of Christian II (1481–1559), King of Denmark (1513–23). The king is portrayed as a young man, perhaps in his early twenties.
The sitter in the Society’s painting has the air of a suitor, depicted in the act of presenting a prenuptial flower. Marriage plans for Prince Christian were afoot in 1506–7, involving first the daughter of Count John of Auvergne, and then, a year or two later, Eleanore, niece of Margaret of Austria. Although nothing came of these matches, or of any earlier unrecorded ones, there was clearly a demand in the early years of the century for a suitor-portrait of Christian, already rather old to be unmarried by the standards of the time. Eventually, he was betrothed to Eleanore’s younger sister, Isabella, in April 1514 and Michel Sittow is thought to have painted #the portrait of Christian in Copenhagen in June of that year. By July 1515, while still in Mechlin with her aunt, Margaret of Austria, Isabella was reportedly transfixed by a portrait of her betrothed that she had seen. It has been suggested that the likeness of Christian that held her gaze was not the hirsute and slightly forbidding image attributed to Sittow but the more appealing one belonging to the Society, or a version of it. At all events, the king was advised to shave off his beard shortly before he and Isabella met for their marriage in Copenhagen the following month.