A scene from the life of St. Hubert appears behind the sitter. While out hunting on Good Friday, the pleasure-loving Hubert saw a stag with a vision of the crucifix between its antlers. He renounced his worldly way of life, turned to Christianity, became a bishop, then a saint. The scene is perhaps included here because the young man belonged to a guild dedicated to the saint.
From 1519 to 1521 Mostaert was a court painter to the Regent of the Netherlands, Margaret of Austria. But this portrait was probably painted when Mostaert returned to Haarlem, where there was a guild devoted to St. Hubert.
This painting came from the collection of the Dutch ambassador Hendrik Fagel junior. When Roscoe bought it in 1813 it was said to be by the major Dutch printmaker Lucas van Leyden (about 1494-1533). Roscoe thought it was a self-portrait of the artist dressed as St Hubert.
The artist’s high reputation and the painting’s good condition helps explain why it was one of the paintings that sold for a high price in Roscoe’s bankruptcy sale in 1816 - £48.6.0d. (£48.30p).
From 1819 it was displayed in the Liverpool Royal Institution as a self-portrait by Lucas van Leyden. There it gained favourable comment from the public.