This oil on poplar? panel portrait of an 'Unknown Gentleman' is often referred to as the portrait of a 'Beardless Young Man' due to the youthful age of the sitter.
Neither the artist nor the subject of this picture has so far been conclusively identified. Thomas Kerrich recorded a (now lost) inscription on the back – LEONNAR d Alvia : : n – in 1805 and John B Nichols, in the list of portraits in the Kerrich bequest that he published in 1831, claimed that Kerrich had identified the subject as Bartolommeo Liviano de Alviano, an Umbrian nobleman and soldier, from ‘a half obliterated inscription at the back’. What survives now is a faded and incomplete hand-written label on the reverse of the panel that reads: …tolomeo Liviano di Alviano, possibly applied by Kerrich after his identification.
It is possible that Bartolommeo Liviano d'Alviano (c 1455-1515) could be the subject of the portrait. D’Alviano had been page to the Orsini family and was subsequently married to Bartolomea Orsini (c 1484). Left a widower, he married Pantasilea Baglioni in 1497. The details of the hat and costume worn by the sitter suggest a similar date for the painting, and so this might be a flatteringly youthful image of d'Alviano as a prospective suitor.
The unusual arrangement of the sitter's undershirt - gaping at the neck to reveal a glimpse of the shoulder - may further strengthen the argument for D'Avliano as sitter. Contemporary records describe him as being of small stature with a severely misshapen shoulder. The artful distortion of the vertical embroidered band on the young man’s undershirt, together with the gaping neckline, could both be reflections of Bartolommeo's physical idiosyncrasies.
D'Avliano was later made Duke of Pordenone (1508) and became Captain General in the Venetian army in 1513, following the alliance between Venice and Louis XII, King of France (1462-1515).