The sitter was a distant relative of Sir Christopher Hatton (1540–1591) a central figure in the court of Elizabeth I. A well-known favourite of the Queen, Hatton played a prominent role in the examinations of various Catholic plotters against her and was a commissioner for the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1586.This painting was made when the sitter was nine years old. He is shown standing, somewhat tentatively, in a traditional pose next to a large curtain of rich material. In the distance, over his left shoulder is a landscape, which may depict the family estate. Christopher Hatton succeeded his father as Baron Hatton and as Governor of Guernsey in 1670. In 1683 he was made Viscount Hatton of Grendon. He was married three times and left two sons: William (1690–1760) and Henry Charles (c.1700–1762).
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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