Barthel or Bartholomäus Bruyn was the leading portrait painter in the Electorate of Cologne during the Early Reformation and founded a lasting school of portraiture. This is one of Bruyn’s most important pictures, but the sitter has only been correctly identified in recent years. The key to his identity is provided by the signet ring displayed prominently on his right forefinger, which bears the crest of the Westerburg family of Cologne. Gerhard von Westerburg (1486-c.1539) was a leading Cologne lawyer and a keen supporter of the Reformation. He appears to have commissioned this portrait to commemorate his marriage of 1523 to Gertraude von Leutz. A portrait of his wife by Bruyn survives in the Kröller-Müller Museum, in Otterloo.
Barthel Bruyn I Portrait of Gerhard von Westerberg 1524 © Compton Verney