The present painting and another version, now in the Meadows Museum, Dallas, are both given to Anthonis Mor, but possibly with the participation of Sánchez Coello, to whom the latter painting had long been attributed. While Mor excelled in capturing the psychology of his sitters, Sánchez Coello was particularly skilled at painting costume and armour. Like the earlier portrait of Alessandro, the format follows almost exactly that of Mor’s painting of Philip II in the El Escorial, which enabled him to repeat a composition without substantial changes to the post. Alessandro stands against a dark background, wearing a full corselet (or half armour), for field use on foot, as is demonstrated by the type of sword and dagger worn on either side. The splendid Italian-made armour, with red piping identifying Alessandro as a member of the Spanish army, is dated to circa 1560 and is almost certainly the Milanese armour mentioned by Margaret of Parma in her correspondence as being delivered to him in Madrid in October 1561. At the time of this portrait’s commission, Mor was on a permanent retainer with the Spanish court, and Sánchez Coello was gaining favor in court and would eventually succeed his teacher as Spanish court painter.
1 By the end of October Mor had already requested a passport to return to Brussels; this had a validity of only three months and Mor was certainly back in Brussels by early 1562.
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