Francesco Bonsignori was a favored artist at the court of the Gonzaga in Mantua, where Francesco Gonzaga granted him the use of a house in 1487, the year this portrait was painted. He was employed by the Gonzaga as a portrait painter. He was also in demand beyond Mantua, and the sitter here is likely the patrician Venetian Giovanni Cappello (died 1499), a senator and procurator of San Marco. Bonsignori’s black-chalk drawing (cat. no. 154) demonstrates the care with which he prepared the portrait; indeed, letters between Francesco Gonzaga and his wife, Isabella d’Este, show that they found the artist’s drawings exceptionally beautiful.