The darkness around this work corresponds with Titian's early paintings, with his later career becoming brighter and bolder. It is believed that Giorgione specifically influenced this early style although similarities can also be drawn with the work of Caravaggio and Rembrandt.
The Knight of Malta is easy to identify due to the cross on his outfit, which leaves little doubt. Titian chose to depict knights on several occasions, including Knight with a Clock which itself can be found at the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid. There was also a contribution titled Portrait of Gabriele Tadino which is attributed to Titian's studio. This is a three-quarter length portrait with the knight seated, wearing the robes of the order of the knights of Malta. Behind him you will find a typically lavish landscape with cannons.
The Knights of Malta took their name from the Hospitallers of St John the Baptist and were focused in servicing the sick, amongst other duties. They initially worked from the island of Rhodes before being gifted the island of Malta as reward for their efforts.
The Uffizi gallery hosts one of the finest collections of Renaissance art in the world and even has its own room dedicated to Titian. There you will find alongside Portrait of a Knight of Malta, a portrait of Bishop Ludovico Beccadelli, Portrait of Caterina Coronaro as Saint Catherine of Alexandria, portraits of Francesco Maria della Rovere and Eleonora Gonzaga della Rovereand also his Portrait of a Man, The Sick Man. There is also an entire floor devoted to the paintings and sculpture of Michelangelo.
Any visitor to Florence with the slightest interest in art from this period simply has to visit this high profile art museum, even if they avoid the many other cultural venues in this historic city.