Hans Holbein the Younger was known as King’s Painter to Henry VIII.
His portrait, Hans of Antwerp, was first recorded in the Royal Collection in 1639 when the painting hung in Charles I’s Chair Room at Whitehall, but by then repairs to damage on the artwork already obscured the identity of the sitter.
The portrait depicts a man dressed in a fur-lined gown, resting his quill pen on a sheet of paper and cutting the string of a letter with a knife.
Now, after painstaking removal of overpaint and discoloured varnish, conservators have confirmed that the man in the painting is a German merchant.
It is one of 27 works by Holbein to go on display in the exhibition The Northern Renaissance: Dürer to Holbein, which is to open next month at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace.