A young man wears a lightly starched ruff (popular in the 1620s) and a black doublet or close-fitting jacket. He is framed by a feigned oval, painted to look like wood, a common feature of the artist’s early work. To the lower right, the work is initialled ‘C. J.’, by artist Cornelius Johnson, and dated 1626.
Although the identity of the sitter of this portrait is uncertain, it probably represents Edward Hyde, later first Earl of Clarendon, a prominent statesman under Charles I and Charles II, and a historian of the Civil Wars, who held the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The portrait was once part of the collection at Bourton House, Gloucestershire - former home of Sir Edward Hyde East, a distant descendant of the first Earl of Clarendon - where it hung on the main landing or stairs with other family portraits.
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.
Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon (1609-1674) politician and historian [identity uncertain]
Oil on panel
height: 74.50 cm, width: 61.00 cm
Purchased from the Bourton House Sale, December 1952
br: C. J. Fecit / 1626.
Collection of Miss Ada Theodosia Bligh of Bourton House, Bourton-on-the-Hill, Gloucestershire, and on display on the main landing or stairs to ground floor; by whose executor (Westminster Bank Limited) sold through Messrs. Nicolas of London, 'Bourton House, Bourton-on-the-Hill, Glos. Sale of the Contents', on 2 December 1952 (Lot 449), as Cornelius Janssens 'Portrait of a Gentleman wearing a ruff, in painted oval'
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