Identify the level of wealth and social standing of the person from the Northern Renaissance era in this portrait and explain your reasons.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The grounding, the man's clothing and his accessories give away his social status and wealth. The background and foreground show (1) curtain drapes of green velvet (note the subtle shading of dark and light and the softly buckled folds) and (2) a chair upholstered in red velvet (note the absence of the sheen, either high or low gloss, that would accompany leather).

His clothing is all the height of Northern Renaissance fashion. The colors are dark (green, red, black) and black is a particular luxury dye from Spain. He wears a flat cap with rolled brim that is adorned and decorated with a plume feather, suggesting an exotic bird from a foreign land (a costly import or explorer's treasure), and with jewels around the rolled up brim. He wears Northern puffed short breeches or "skirt" of box-pleated heavy silk or fine linen with puckered silk ribbon overlays that reverse the pucker-ribbon design of his sleeves. Note the puffed, body-form altering cod-piece showing through the space between the halves of his skirted jerkin (skirted vest).

The sleeves of his silk (note the soft folds of silk in the puckers) camica undergarment are puckered, with the puckering created by the overlay of shorter ribbon woven of gold thread. The ruffled neckline of the camica is visible at the throat. His jerkin and cape are covered with fine gold embroidery over black wool (it shapes around the cod-piece too softly to be a leather jerkin) worked in elaborate and intricate detail. The embroidery appears to be bejeweled all over both garments. His accessories of necklace and sword are finely wrought precious metal (note the gold filigree around the sword hilt) with large gems and precious gemstones.

These three categories of evidence indicate this man has great wealth, extremely high social status and nobility. Since the necklace, called an "order," is an symbol of monarchical authority (the cross-like pendent perhaps of large diamonds), then he is dressed to subtly display his royalty even though he carries no scepter.

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