In this three-quarter length portrait, former Solicitor-General and Attorney-General Lord Coventry is depicted wearing baron’s Parliamentary robes and a large ruff of white lace. His right hand rests on the ceremonial bag of the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal (which held the seal itself). A ceremonial mace can be seen by his left hand.
A remarkable number of versions of this particular portrait of Coventry exist. Coventry was one of the most loyal patrons of portraitist Cornelius Johnson and sat for his portrait to Johnson on at least five occasions during the 1620s and 1630s. Other examples of portraits of the lawyer commissioned from Johnson include a half-length version of 1634 in the collection at Longleat, Wiltshire, and a three-quarter length portrait, painted in 1639, now in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
In October 1593, Cornelius Johnson was baptised at the Dutch Church, in the City of London. His parents were refugees from Antwerp, although the family originally hailed from Cologne. Johnson may have studied in the Netherlands, but worked in England from around 1618. He married Elizabeth Beck of Colchester at the Dutch Church in 1622. Between 1618 and 1643 he produced portraits on panel and later on canvas, always preferring the feigned oval. After van Dyck's arrival Johnson adjusted his style and even produced some full-length portraits. In 1632, he was appointed ‘his Majesty's servant in the quality of Picture drawer’. Fears of the imminent English Civil War caused Johnson to retire to Holland in October 1643. He died in Utrecht in 1661.
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