Durer had settled back into his native town of Nuremburg by the time that this portrait was executed. He had travelled extensively across Europe for a number of years and this helped him to develop a unique artistic approach which fused together a variety of different influences. Within the year of 1526 he would actually focus almost entirely on the genre of portraiture, as this depiction of Hieronymus Holzschuher was just one of a number of formal portraits that he delivered - see the paintings of Johann Kleberger and Jakob Muffel from around the same time as examples of this. Research has uncovered that Hieronymus Holzschuher was actually a local politician who held some important roles within the regional council. It was decided that this portrait would be relatively small, measuring under half a metre in height, but there is still an abundance of detail to appreciate within this artwork which today sits alongside a number of other paintings by the artist at the highly respected Gemäldegalerie.
Some evidence suggests that this portrait was one of a number produced by Durer for the purposes of an official celebration within the town hall, as several of his paintings are sized the same. The records that we have indicate that Hieronymus Holzschuher was in his late fifties at the time of this painting, though his appearance would suggest that he has not lived a particularly healthy life as one might guess that he was actually older than this. His hair hangs down without any real style, seemingly uncut for many years, and his beard matches this white/grey tone that indicates a mature age. One might imagine him to be portly in frame, though it is hard to tell because of the nature of this portrait, which is only half length and his torso is covered entirely by a thick coat. One memorable element to this work would be the lifelike fur collars of the coat which will remind many of one of the artist's self portraits, namely Self-Portrait at the Age of Twenty Eight.
This piece has fallen and risen in popularity over the centuries, kept away from the public at times. It was eventually exhibited for the first time in 1869 in Munich at which point the artist's work was starting to regain interest. This particular portrait was seen to perfectly represent the old German patrician class and so carried much more value to Germans than a typical portrait would have done. The level of lifelike detail also helps to transport us back in time to many centuries previous which was very much the capability of the greater old masters such as Durer. It was then in around the late 19th century that this piece left the possession of the subject's family line and entered a public gallery which has allowed it to retain a high level of prominence within the artist's career as well as to be studied in greater detail at first hand by experts from several different institutions.