This is a beautiful and exquisite portrait of a young man from the powerful Farnese family. His name is Ranuccio Farnese, and he was painted in 1542, when he was twelve years old.
Look at his gaze that holds a child's curiosity, that is the most astonishing part that attracts me. His eyes are sparkling with innocence and his face is glowing in the dark background.
This is painted by Titian, a great portrait painter who is highly successful in high circles during his time. He is considered one of the leading painters of the High Renaissance together with Leonardo Michelangelo and Raphael.
According to art history book, the cross on his black cape is the symbol of the order of Malta, an elite club-like congregation that signaled high birth. Back in old time, painting a portrait is much more difficult without camera, and that makes the painters greater and worth higher respect from people.
Usually, the old and traditional portrait painting requires one or a few sittings, the painter would sketch only the face and maybe draw the bare outlines of the body. The painter would later be given access to the dress or other elements that the client wanted in the image to complete the painting.
Fast forward to today, most of us are fortunate to learn portrait painting with great photos as reference.