According to Vasari, Maso studied with Pierfrancesco Foschi, which accounts for the simplicity and precision of his style as seen in this elegant portrait. Maso avoided the Mannerist style of his Florentine contemporaries, but still received commissions from the Medici, including his decorations for the studiolo
of Francesco I. The present work shares compositional and stylistic similarities with a group of portraits attributed to Maso by Peter Cannon Brookes in 1966 and dated between the mid-1550s and 1570.1
The gentleman portrayed here apparently wished to emphasize his wealth as well as his intellect. Maso depicted gloves in the sitter’s right hand, a gold ring on his left pinky finger, a richly embroidered carpet on the table, and an inkwell sitting atop a book, all of which indicate worldly status.
1. See P.C. Brookes, "The Portraits of Maso da San Friano," in Burlington Magazine vol. 108 no. 764, pp. 560-568, especially figs. 24, 25, 34.