This portrait of the courtier Baldessare Castiglione by Raphael is my favorite painting in the Louvre.
I am always amazed at how many people who visit the Louvre, walk right past the magnificent Raphael's, Leonardo's,
and other famous paintings in the Grande Gallerie , and rush to see only Leonardo's "Mona Lisa" and then move on.
The subject, Baldessare Castiglione, was a friend of Raphael, who grew up in Urbino where Castiglione wrote "The Book of the Courtier" in 1528.
Castiglione was the epitome of the perfect gentleman and courtier described in the book, which is still published and studied today in many university courses.
Raphael has perfectly described in paint, the quiet elegance and demeanor of the subject in the soft colors,
and rich but simple fur garment worn by Castiglione, who is shown in a classic 3/4 pose, with his hands quietly folded.