William Style (1599/1600 or 1603-79) was the son of William Style of Langley, Kent and his second wife Mary, daughter of Sir Robert Clarke, Baron of the Exchequer. He matriculated from Queen's College, Oxford in 1618, aged 15, and became a student at the Inner Temple in London that same year, completing his legal training as a barrister in 1628.
During his legal career, Style published some minor works on law and, in 1640, a translation from the Latin of a devotional handbook by the Nuremberg humanist and theologian Johann Michael Dilherr, entitled Contemplations, Sighes and Groanes of a Christian, the original of which had first been published in Jena in 1634.
Many features in this portrait closely echo Dilherr's text. It may have even been painted while Style was working on his translation - his preface is dated 'From my chamber in the Inner Temple August 20 1639', and the date '1636' over the archway in the painting could commemorate the year of Style's entrance into a new understanding of religious life at that time. It was this which led him to embark upon the translation. His text is an exhortation in very elaborate language to abandon worldly vanities for a more Christian life. In it he uses the garden as an analogue for the church…