In this portrait he poses in a red turban, reminding many of another significant Van Eyck portrait - namely, The Man in a Red Turban from 1433. The artist would again use headdress in his portrait of a Man in a Blue Chaperon from around the same period. This painting uses the artist's style of displaying the head and hands in bright light, with relative darkness set across the rest of the scene.
This particular painting is dated at 1438, around four years after the same subject appeared alongside his wife in one of the most famous paintings from the entire Northern Renaissance, namely the Arnolfini Wedding. Simply comparing the two can confirm it is the same man, from his small beady eyes to his elongated nose which bends down at the tip. It is the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin that is the fortunate owner of this highly significant artwork, whilst the Arnolfini Wedding can be found at the National Gallery in London, UK as part of a highly impressive collection of Renaissance and Baroque art.
Giovanni himself was a wealthy merchant from Lucca in Italy who lived most of his life in the areas around the Netherlands, as we now know it. This individual was more than just a successful businessman, he also involved himself in Italian and Dutch politics and during this period merchants were amongst the best connected and powerful of people. Few had access to markets around the continent nor the means with which to reach out to the ruling powers of this fragmented continent.
As his career developed Giovanni would build a working relationship with another trader from Lucca, by the name of Marco Guidiccioni. They would start to do business with powerful European monarchs, including King Henry V of England, Duke Phillip the Good and even gifted several items to the Pope which no doubt would have been done to carry favour at a later date.