The artist Cornelius Johnson was born in London in 1593. His family were exiles from Antwerp, though of German descent. He was probably trained in the Netherlands, but became a prolific painter of portraits and miniatures in England. He was made one of Charles I's official painters in 1632.In 1643 civil war caused Johnson to take his family to the Netherlands, where he stayed until his death. In 1646, when this portrait was painted, he was in Amsterdam. His style here echoes that of van Dyck, whose paintings had made such a powerful impact in England.